BILLINGS, Mont. – A 26-year-old resident of Las Vegas, Nev., was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison following his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter, District of Montana.
The investigation was a cooperative effort among U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, and the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull also sentenced Howard Jay Bonifant to five years of supervised release, a $50,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment fee.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara J. Elliott and Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
- Beginning in October 2008 and continuing until November 2010, Bonifant conspired to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine in and around Billings, Mont., and Las Vegas, Nev.
- A co-conspirator (CC # 1) would have testified that between November 2008 and February 2009 s/he traveled from Las Vegas to Billings and other locations, and distributed several pounds of methamphetamine from her/his source of supply, which was Bonifant.
- Another co-conspirator (CC # 2) would have testified that between February 2009 and August 2009 s/he traveled from Las Vegas to Billings 12 to 18 times, and obtained about 20 ounces of methamphetamine each time (between 240 and 360 ounces total) from Bonifant for distribution.
- On Nov. 28, 2011 and Jan. 11, 2012, law enforcement officers interviewed Bonifant. He provided details on how he began his involvement with drug trafficking in Billings, the individuals who obtained methamphetamine from him for distribution, including drug amounts, as well as information regarding his source of supply.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that Bonifant will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Bonifant has the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction cannot exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.