A raid on a marijuana-growing operation in a Billings-area home sent a Billings man to federal prison for five years and cost him his house and a vehicle.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday sentenced Lucas Anthony Leenknecht, 34, to five years as recommended in a plea agreement, even though the guideline range of 46 months to 57 months was a little shorter.
The judge called the five-year term sufficient and noted Leenknecht’s involvement in the growing and selling operation. Leenknecht, he said, obstructed justice by trashing his house after learning it would be forfeited to the government because it was used in the crime. Leenknecht also forfeited a 1971 GMC pickup.
Cebull dismissed 79 other counts against Leenknecht. Most of the other counts were money laundering charges.
Leenknecht, who pleaded guilty in May to manufacturing marijuana and to money laundering, apologized. “I know I’ve caused a lot of pain and a lot of embarrassment. I screwed up my life pretty good,” he said.
An investigation found that Leenknecht grew more than 100 plants in his home at 7142 Highway 3 from 2009 until July 2011, when agents executed a search warrant. Leenknecht was held responsible for at least 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, of marijuana.
Two others also were sentenced in the case. Christopher Andrew Lich, 33, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing marijuana for distribution and to money laundering, while his twin brother, Corey Lich, was sentenced to 40 months in prison for witness tampering for telling a federal grand jury witness to keep his mouth shut during a drug investigation.