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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Monday, August 11, 2014

Great Falls Man Pleads Guilty To Drug And Meth Offenses

GREAT FALLS - Christopher James Michelotti, a 30-year-old resident of Great Falls, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Michelotti's plea could result in a term of life in prison and his sentence can be no less than 12 years. Michelotti is being detained pending his sentencing on November 11, 2014 at 9:00 am in front of U.S. District Judge Brian Morris.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley, the government told the court that during the summer of 2013, the Russell Country Drug Task Force was investigating the defendant for methamphetamine distribution in Great Falls, Montana. The defendant and his co-defendant, Dustin Steele, employed other people in Great Falls to sell methamphetamine for them. Around that time, one man owed the defendant approximately $700.00 for a drug debt.

During the early morning hours of August 20, 2013, the defendant and Steele began to look for the man and the money. Later that evening, the man with the debt agreed to meet the defendant in the parking lot of a restaurant in Great Falls. The man arrived and found the defendant and Steele were both present. They forced the man into a blue Chevy pickup and demanded the money. Steele possessed a handgun, and the defendant wore brass knuckles with a knife.

The defendant and Steele then picked up another man at a local casino who was also responsible for the drug debt. As the defendant and Steele drove through Great Falls, the defendant was yelling that he only picks up a gun when he intends to use it.

As the night progressed, the first man with debt pleaded that he could get the money from his girlfriend. They went by the girlfriend's house, and the man told his girlfriend she only had a half-hour to obtain the money or he and the other man were going to die. Once they left, the girlfriend alerted the police to the kidnapping. The man who had been picked up at the casino was able to escape at this point. Meanwhile, Steele called a friend to come pick them up in order to get a different vehicle. He said they were running from the cops and he had hostages with him.

The friend went to pick up the defendant and Steele, and then drove them to Upper River Road to get a different truck. The defendant and Steele instructed the man to drive the new truck back to the blue Chevy pickup to make sure it was secure. The defendant and Steele had repeatedly said "there was life in the truck," meaning there were drugs and a loaded gun inside the truck. On the way back, the man proceeded to the area of the truck and saw that the police had arrived. He went for help. The police arrested the defendant and Steele.

A search of the 2003 Chevy pickup revealed a backpack with methamphetamine and a stolen gun. Specifically, detectives found a loaded Taurus Judge .45LC/410 Gauge pistol. Four shells were found in the pistol, as well as a box of 410 shotgun shells. Inside the backpack, detectives found 20.3 grams of actual (pure) methamphetamine. Detectives also searched a known stash house later that day used by the defendant and found 6.7 grams of actual (pure) methamphetamine.

The term pure methamphetamine refers to the purity contained in the transacted amount which is usually "cut" with inert ingredients that make the actual product less pure but more profitable as drugs are generally sold based on quantity not quality.

The case was investigated by the Russell Country Drug Task Force.

Updated January 14, 2015