A man was sentenced in state District Court in Havre to five years with the state Department of Corrections after he admitted he could not disprove that he had operated a methamphetamine laboratory in the Havre area.
Francis James Buck III, born in 1970, was sentenced by District Judge David Rice to 10 years with five suspended.
Buck pleaded no contest to the charge in a plea agreement, admitting he could not disprove the evidence against him but not admitting guilt.
He was charged in September 2009 after an investigation found evidence of his manufacturing methamphetamine in North Havre.
Agents of the Tri-Agency Safe Trails Task Force, following up on a tip, found found evidence from pharmaceutical records that Buck had been purchasing cold medication. A search of his residence also found some items commonly used in the manufacture of meth, but the agents did not seize the items or arrest him because the items could not be proven to be used for purposes other than household use.
Later, one of Buck’s neighbors found items, that were not his, in his own storage shed. Investigating officers found enough evidence that the items could be used for meth production to get permission from Buck’s probation and parole officer to search Buck’s residence. The previously discovered items then were seized.
The task force proceeded to have the portable laboratory cleaned up to reduce health and safety risks.
When Rice sentenced Buck, he recommended Buck be screened and placed in an addiction treatment program.
Buck had previously been convicted of several felonies in Montana, including criminal mischief, theft and deceptive practices.