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Montana woman sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison for distributing methamphetamine

BILLINGS, Mont. — A 29-year-old local woman was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in federal prison following her guilty plea to distributing methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter, District of Montana.

This investigation was a cooperative effort among the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Kerry Lynn Van Haele, of Billings, appeared for sentencing before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom. Van Haele was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison and four years of supervised release.

Van Haele had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The government would have proved the following at trial:

  • In January 2010, agents began investigating a methamphetamine distribution cell out of Las Vegas, Nev., that was involved in trafficking high-purity methamphetamine to Billings. Throughout the course of this investigation, agents learned the identities of members in the criminal organization and began interviewing them.
  • Agents were advised by numerous sources who were connected with distributing methamphetamine that Van Haele was one of the subjects obtaining methamphetamine from "X.X." and his organization, and that she was involved in re-distributing the drug. These activities took place on or about May 2010 until September 2010, and occurred within the State of Montana.
  • Co-conspirators with knowledge of Van Haele's activities advised that Van Haele allowed at least one package containing methamphetamine to be delivered to her residence. The methamphetamine was then re-distributed.

Van Haele admitted to obtaining between one and two pounds of methamphetamine from "X.X." between about May and September 2010. Van Haele admitted to re-distributing the methamphetamine she obtained.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that Van Haele will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Van Haele can earn a sentence reduction for good behavior. However, this reduction cannot exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.