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Contraband
04/28/2011

2 sentenced in Montana for distributing methamphetamine

MISSOULA, Mont. - Two Montana residents were sentenced on Thursday following their guilty pleas to distributing methamphetamine. The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter, District of Montana. This case was jointly investigated by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency, and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy sentenced Jessica Rene Plant, 22, to three years in prison, and five years of supervised released. Chance Justin Wilhelm, 26, was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison, and 10 years of supervised release. Both are residents of Butte, Mont.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved the following at trial:

ICE HSI, the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency, and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force began investigating a methamphetamine-trafficking organization in the Butte area in 2008. The drug trafficking organization is responsible for distributing about 20 pounds of methamphetamine in the following Montana counties: Silver Bow, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Gallatin.

Plant's involvement in the conspiracy resulted from her relationship with Alex Fetters, who was the point of contact for the source of supply of methamphetamine in Arizona. Plant lived with Fetters in Arizona during the conspiracy and shipped packages of methamphetamine to Anthony and Corrina Kerner in Butte. Plant also traveled to and from Montana, usually with Fetters but on one occasion without him. She transported drugs from Arizona to Butte and money from Butte back to Arizona.

After Fetters was arrested in Arizona in January 2010, Plant and Fetters attempted to convince law enforcement that Fetters could arrange to purchase a sizeable quantity of methamphetamine if he were released from custody. Plant secured a cell phone with an Oregon area code and exchanged text messages with Fetters pretending to be a source of supply in that state. When the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and ICE HSI agents discovered that the drug deal was a ruse, and that Plant was involved, they interviewed her over the telephone. During the interview she admitted that the drug deal was not legitimate. She also admitted that she had shipped packages of methamphetamine from Arizona to Butte during the conspiracy. The government obtained documents from UPS and from Allegiant Airlines that corroborate both Plant's admissions about her criminal conduct and the statements of her co-conspirators.

Wilhelm's involvement in the conspiracy took place in both Arizona and Montana. In Arizona, Wilhelm lived for a time with Plant and Fetters, who was the point of contact for the source of supply of methamphetamine. Wilhelm occasionally assisted Fetters in transporting methamphetamine from Arizona to Butte. When Fetters was arrested in Arizona in January 2010, Wilhelm's Social Security card was seized from Fetters'residence.

In Butte, Wilhelm operated as a street-level dealer. He received methamphetamine from Anthony Kerner and distributed the drugs in and around Butte. He also occasionally received packages of meth from Fetters in Arizona that were specifically designated for him.

Wilhelm was implicated in the conspiracy by several of his co-conspirators and was interviewed twice by law enforcement officers. During his interviews, he admitted that he was involved with Fetters, Kerner, and others, corroborated many of the aspects of the operation that previously had been described to law enforcement, and acknowledged that distributing more than 500 grams of methamphetamine was reasonably foreseeable to him and within the scope of his agreement with the co-conspirators.

Alex Fetters, Anthony Kerner and Corrina Kerner pleaded guilty to federal charges and have been sentenced.

Because there is no parole in the federal system. The "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that they will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, they do have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.