By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A Rocky Boy faces a mandatory 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge this week.
Gregory George Denny, 31, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Great Falls on Wednesday to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, a police informant reported seeing Denny and a co-defendant in possession of 2 pounds of meth, and other witnesses reported that Denny frequently sold meth by the ounce on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.
The co-defendant, Donny Lynn Ferguson, is also charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. She is serving a prison sentence for state drug charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Harper Suek said Thursday that Ferguson would serve the remainder of her prison sentence for those offenses before facing the federal conspiracy charge.
According to the offer of proof, the Tri-Agency Task Force began to investigate Denny in 2001 after it encountered him while serving a search warrant. Several months later, an informant reported that he had purchased 2 ounces of meth from Denny, the document said. One year later, the FBI got the tip that Denny and Ferguson were seen on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation with more than 2 pounds of meth, the document said.
In June, task force agents arrested Ferguson and Denny and seized suspected meth. Agents interviewed Ferguson, who told them she and Denny had been purchasing meth from two men, according to the offer of proof.
Denny and Ferguson were charged in state District Court with drug offenses in connection with the investigation. Court records show that the federal conspiracy case was built on the same evidence used in the state's case.
Denny and Ferguson were charged by the state with criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, continuing criminal enterprise, and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. Two men, Elias Solano and Jose Sanchez, were charged as co-defendants in that case. They have not been charged by federal prosecutors, Harper Suek said.
Solano and Sanchez were arrested by the FBI and U.S. Border Patrol on the state charges. Solano had $2,036 in cash, the charging document said. Police said Sanchez was in the country illegally.
Sanchez pleaded no contest on Oct. 3 to the charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. A no-contest plea means Solano did not admit guilt, but acknowledged that the state had enough evidence to convict him.
He was sentenced to three years in prison with all but 105 days suspended, with credit for time served. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped the remaining charges against him. He was placed in federal custody following his sentencing in state District Court, pending a deportation hearing.
All of the state charges against Ferguson were dropped in exchange for her testimony against her co-defendants, court records said. During the same court hearing, Ferguson was sentenced to three years in prison on charges from a separate drug case. Ferguson had previously pleaded guilty to two felonies -fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs and forgery. The charges stemmed from allegations that she stole a prescription pad from a hospital and wrote herself prescriptions for painkillers.
Denny pleaded guilty Oct. 3 to two of the state's charges against him - criminal distribution of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections, with all but 18 months suspended.
Solano has pleaded not guilty to all of the state charges against him and is out on bond. He is scheduled for trial in May. Court records said his family in California posted the $10,000 bond and has also paid for Solano to live in a local hotel pending trial. Attempts by his attorney to have Solano's driver's license and passport returned have been rejected by the court, as have two motions to dismiss the charges against him.