Gunshot victim pleads guilty to federal drug charges

2013-07-22T17:44:00Z 2013-12-17T07:44:05Z Gunshot victim pleads guilty to federal drug chargesBy ED KEMMICK The Billings Gazette

A man who was accused of having $10,000 worth of methamphetamine at his home in Lockwood pleaded guilty to two felony counts in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Walter Jack White, 53, had previously pleaded not guilty to three felony charges. On Monday he entered guilty pleas to two counts under a plea agreement that calls for dismissing one count.

White faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison on the two charges -- possessing more than 500 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of two firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.

U.S. District Judge Donold Molloy set sentencing for Oct. 23.

White was arrested in March after federal and state law enforcement agents executed a search warrant on his Lockwood home. They seized about four ounces of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $10,000, two handguns and $15,291 in cash.

The search warrant was issued after White was shot in January outside his house and business on Lockwood Road. Authorities said he was shot by his son, Brandon Jay Joseph White, over a disputed drug debt. The son was charged with two counts of assault with a weapon and other offenses.

In court Monday, Walter White was represented by Billings attorney Robert Stephens.

The count that was dropped as part of the plea agreement charged White with conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute. It carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and the possibility of a life sentence, a $10 million fine and five years of supervised release after serving any prison time.

The same penalties are attached to the possession-with-intent-to-distribute charge White pleaded guilty to on Monday. The weapons charge he pleaded guilty to carries a minimum five-year sentence, with the possibility of life in prison, plus a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release. The gun sentence would run consecutively to any other sentence.

As part of the agreement, White also agreed to forfeit the two handguns and the $15,291, and he waived his right to future appeals.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard said the government has agreed not to seek enhanced penalties related to previous felony convictions on White's record.

Molloy denied White's motion to seal the plea agreement. Stephens said the request was made to protect White because he has agreed to cooperate with the government in the drug case.

Molloy said the plea agreement contained mostly standard language.

"I don't see anything in there that would somehow endanger Mr. White's interests," he said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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