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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 9, 2014

Year Old Hysham Meth Distributor Gets Five Years Without Parole

BILLINGS -- The United States Attorney's Office announced that Thomas Edward VanHaele, a 73 year-old resident of Hysham, Montana, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison during a sentencing hearing in Billings, on October 9, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters. VanHaele was also given five years of supervision once he is released from custody. VanHaele had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing methamphetamine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Billings, Montana had been investigating Thomas Van Haele for the distribution of methamphetamine in the Billings area since May of 2012. On June 13, 2012, an undercover agent purchased methamphetamine from Van Haele in the Lee's Saloon parking lot in Billings. The methamphetamine was sent to the DEA Laboratory for testing, and the results indicate that the amount was 9.5 grams of pure methamphetamine. On June 15, 2012, a second undercover purchase was made from VanHaele at the same location. This methamphetamine was sent to the DEA Laboratory for testing, and the results indicate that the amount was 11.3 grams of 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.

Parole has been abolished in the federal system so VanHaele will be required to serve the entire sentence although federal prisoners are given some days off their sentence for complying with prison rules and not committing any infractions or causing disruption inside the prison.

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Updated January 14, 2015