By Tim Eberly
A California man accused of selling marijuana last summer on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Keith Scott, 20, was arrested after a Montana Highway Patrol officer found nearly two pounds of marijuana in his rental car, according to an offer of proof filed in U.S. District Court in Great Falls. His companion, Kaseem Alim Shipley, 30, also was arrested. Both are residents of El Cajon, Calif.
Officer Steve Baiamonte pulled them over June 24 as they were driving east on U.S. Highway 2 toward Chinook at 95 mph, court documents said. After obtaining permission to search the vehicle, Baiamonte found marijuana residue inside the glove compartment, prompting him to check the trunk, the offer of proof said.
He uncovered a loaded .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, then nearly two pounds of marijuana wrapped in clear plastic inside Shipley's suitcase, court documents said.
Baiamonte also found $2,600 inside one of Scott's socks while performing a pat-down, the offer of proof said.
Scott faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release if convicted. He will be sentenced on June 6.
Shipley and Scott left San Diego, Calif., several days before their arrest. Their Nissan Quest van had mechanical difficulty near Helena. They reached Great Falls, where Shipley and Scott rented a car.
The next day, both men traveled to Fort Belknap, where they sold drugs from the back bedroom of an acquaintance's home, the court documents allege.
Shipley pleaded not guilty Oct. 23 to charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm during a drug crime, and felony in possession of a firearm.
He was released on his own recognizance Oct. 22, attended his arraignment hearing and has not been heard from since. A federal warrant was issued for Shipley's arrest on Dec. 20.