Idaho Man Pleads Guilty to Distribution of Meth Resulting in Death
GREAT FALLS – Thomas Joseph Wehner Jr., 40, of Moyie Springs, Idaho, pleaded guilty today to one count of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death. The charges stemmed from a six-count indictment in February of this year. Wehner appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris to enter the guilty plea.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the United States was prepared to prove that on September 22, 2015, deputies in Boundary County, Idaho, responded to a report of a business burglary. The business owner told authorities that chainsaws, gold, numerous firearms, and his truck had been stolen during the preceding night. The business owner told authorities two days later that he had visited Wehner’s home to discuss a business issue and observed a chainsaw he believed to be one of the ones stolen in the partially opened trunk of a car.
On September 30, 2015, Meagher and Broadwater County deputies, along with Montana Highway Patrol Officers, responded to a high speed pursuit between White Sulphur Springs and Townsend. The driver eventually stopped and law enforcement identified the vehicle as belonging to Wehner, although he was not in the vehicle when it was stopped. Through communication with Boundary County deputies, Montana law enforcement determined that the vehicle contained one of the firearms that had been reported stolen, and that Wehner had at one point been in the vehicle.
The morning of October 1, Great Falls police officers were dispatched to a report of a dead male. The deceased victim’s wife told law enforcement that Wehner had shown up at her house the previous evening with several water bottles of what he said was “pure dope.” The defendant and the victim proceeded to drink out of one of the bottles and the victim became agitated and died sometime during the early morning. One of the recovered water bottles was sent to the DEA lab for testing and was determined to contain a half gram of methamphetamine with a purity of 100%. An autopsy revealed that the victim had died after ingesting a lethal amount of methamphetamine.
Almost simultaneously, Judith Basin County deputies responded to a call from a woman in Hobson, Montana. She said that the defendant had shown up at her home that morning driving a rental vehicle. He was behaving erratically and stated that there was a dead body lying on the ground in Great Falls. She later called the authorities again to inform them that Wehner was at a nearby bank. Detectives found him at the bank, and Wehner agreed to accompany them to the police station to be interviewed. In Wehner’s rented vehicle, detectives found hydrocodone pills, a black suitcase with two water bottles and a ziplock bag that contained methamphetamine. Wehner admitted that he had provided the methamphetamine to the victim and had intended to provide him with some of the drug to sell. He also admitted to the Idaho burglary.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Great Falls Police Departments, along with the Drug Enforcement Agency, The Montana Highway Patrol, the Meagher, Broadwater, Judith Basin, and Cascade County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Boundary County, Idaho Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley.