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Justice News

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

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Great Falls Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Making Meth in His Grandfather's Garage

GREAT FALLS—Christopher Stefani, 47, of Great Falls, was sentenced today for manufacturing methamphetamine in his grandfather’s garage, which led to an explosion.  Great Falls United States District Court Judge Brian Morris sentenced Stefani to 144 months in prison, followed by a term of 3 supervised release.

Stefani previously pleaded guilty to manufacturing methamphetamine.  In an Offer of Proof filed by the government, and accessible through PACER, the government stated that if the case had proceeded to trial, it would have proven that on July 8, 2014,

an explosion occurred while Stefani manufactured methamphetamine in his 94-year-old grandfather’s garage in Great Falls, Montana.  This methamphetamine laboratory was not reported to police until a few days later after a caregiver for Stefani’s grandfather realized someone had been making methamphetamine in the garage.  At the time of the explosion, a neighbor had spotted a white cloud of smoke come out of the garage.  Immediately after the explosion, the neighbor saw Stefani drive quickly down the back alley.

The caretaker went into the garage during the evening of July 9, 2014.  She saw a burn mark on the floor, as well as salt and Coleman fuel.  She did not want to disrupt Stefani’s elderly grandfather from sleeping that night, so she called police the next day.  The caretaker told detectives that Stefani used his grandfather’s garage as his personal work area, and came and went as he pleased.  She said Stefani had last been in the garage on July 8, 2014, and she spoke to him that same day.  Stefani had reported he severely burned his leg on a motorcycle and was in a lot of pain.

During the investigation, detectives found a one gallon can of Coleman Fuel had caught fire and scorched the surrounding area.  Detectives also found four Walgreens receipts for pseudoephedrine.  They recovered a bloody bandage, coffee filters, battery tops, tubing, a salt container, and liquid fire sulfuric acid, which were all items consistent with manufacturing methamphetamine.  Detectives found gas generators with tubing coming out of the lids and a white substance in the coffee filters.  The DEA Laboratory analyzed items from the scene and concluded they contained methamphetamine.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Betley. Because there is no parole in the federal system, Stefani will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence before he is released from prison. The case was investigated by Russell Country Task Force, which includes law enforcement from the Great Fall Police Department.

Updated June 4, 2015