By Tim Eberly
A woman pleaded not guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls to charges stemming from a summer drug deal in Harlem.
Mardell Kay Johnson, 31, pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and aiding in the distribution of marijuana. Johnson, who has a pretrial court appearance Friday, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and six years of supervised release if convicted of both crimes.
Johnson is the last of five individuals to be charged in connection with a purchase outside the VFW club in Harlem on May 20. Two men Matthew Stiffarm, 21, and Garrett Snell, 21, both of Fort Belknap were convicted on state drug charges in Blaine County in October.
Currently in federal custody in the Cascade County jail, 27-year-old Oscar Villazana, a Texas resident, and Thomas Robert King, 29, of Billings, both pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to distribute marijuana in early October. Villazana and King will be sentenced on Feb. 19.
Prosecutors issued Johnson a federal summons in early December, while the four men were arrested immediately after an undercover agent purchased two ounces of marijuana from them for $280 on May 20, said the FBI in Havre.
Before their arrest, Villazana and King had stayed on the reservation at Johnson's residence on the Fort Belknap Reservation for two days, the FBI said. She met the men through either Stiffarm or Snell, one of whom is related to her, and had allowed King to temporarily reside with her for several months prior to the arrest.
A person placed a call to Johnson on May 20, expressing a desire to purchase marijuana, the FBI said. Johnson instructed the individual to meet her outside the VFW, according to the FBI. Johnson didn't go to the parking lot. Instead, Stiffarm, Snell, Villazana and King drove up in a 1962 Oldsmobile, and completed the deal, the FBI said.
If you have information about the possession, purchase or distribution of illegal drugs in the area, call the Havre FBI at 265-7181 or the Tri-Agency Drug Task Force at 265-1192.