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A Billings man will spend 15 months in federal prison for distributing cocaine he got from a former Outlaws football player to his friends.

Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull sentenced Darin James Marker, 38, at the low end of the guideline range Wednesday.

Cebull said he agreed with the prosecutor's view that Marker needed to grow up.

"You have wonderful parents," he told Marker. Marker also had advantages others don't and didn't use the tools he had to help him stay sober, Cebull said.

Cebull had allowed Marker to remain free after he pleaded guilty in January to distributing cocaine. But he ordered Marker jailed after Marker was arrested for drunken driving and using cocaine.

Cebull also cited a criminal history in which Marker got mostly deferred or suspended sentences for alcohol- and drug-related offenses in state court.

"You have to grow up and to permanently alter your lifestyle," the judge said.

Marker apologized to his family and the community.

"I have grown up," he said. "I do accept everything I did was wrong."

Marker's attorney, Matthew Wald, said Marker has alcohol and drug dependency problems and was a recreational cocaine user and gave the drug to his friends. Wald asked the judge to consider that Marker was devoted to his children, a hard worker and coached children in sports.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Seykora said that while Marker pleaded guilty, he refused to name those to whom he gave cocaine and then violated his release conditions by using cocaine and alcohol.

"The defendant hasn't grown up yet," he said.

Marker faced sentencing range of 15 months to 21 months and was held responsible for distributing between 25 grams and 50 grams of cocaine from January to June 2009. The government agreed not to seek additional charges in return for a guilty plea.

Marker is among 17 people convicted in connection with a cocaine conspiracy involving several former members of the Outlaws, a defunct Billings indoor football team.

Prosecutors said Marker got cocaine from ex-player Shon Flores, who was a main dealer. Flores, who got almost 18 kilograms, or about 40 pounds, of cocaine from a source in Salt Lake City, was sentenced to more than six years in prison. 

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Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

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