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Press Release

Thomas Joseph Spotted Eagle Sentenced In U.S. District Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Helena, on September 10, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, THOMAS JOSEPH SPOTTED EAGLE, a 30-year-old resident of Pablo, was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 12 months

Special Assessment: $100

Supervised Release: 3 years

SPOTTED EAGLE was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to use of a communications device to aid in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On July 20, 2010, a Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office Deputy initiated a traffic stop on a black 2010 Mercedes Benz SUV after running the license plate and determining that the owner had a valid arrest warrant. The owner of the vehicle, Joseph Chartraw, provided a false name to the deputy but ultimately admitted his name. A narcotics-detecting K-9 was called to the scene and positively alerted on the vehicle for the presence of narcotic odors. The vehicle was impounded pending a search warrant application. A subsequent search yielded airline tickets, a cell phone, documents, $14,154 in cash, and user amounts of marijuana.

Pursuant to the Search Warrant, detectives had the cellular telephone that was seized from the vehicle analyzed. The contents revealed that Chartraw had been involved with selling hundreds of pounds of marijuana, as well as transporting tens of thousands of dollars in cash. Some of the text messages on the phone blatantly discussed prices for pounds of marijuana, smuggling bulk cash via the airlines, having bulk cash from drug proceeds deposited into bank accounts, and dealing marijuana to the Indian reservations in Montana. According to the text messages on the phone, marijuana was distributed to Browning, Polson, Crow Agency, as well as Havre, St. Ignatius, Great Falls, Missoula, Cut Bank, Lolo, and other places throughout Montana.

One of the subjects having drug-related communications with Chartraw was SPOTTED EAGLE. On June 15, 2010, SPOTTED EAGLE and Chatraw exchanged a series of text messages arranging for SPOTTED EAGLE to pick up marijuana from one of Chartraw's distributors for future distribution to SPOTTED EAGLE's marijuana customers.

Chartraw was interviewed and admitted SPOTTED EAGLE was his second largest distributor of marijuana and that the two used their cellular telephones to arrange drug deals.

Chartraw pled guilty to federal charges and has been sentenced.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that SPOTTED EAGLE will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, SPOTTED EAGLE does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force.

Updated January 14, 2015