One of Billings' biggest drug dealers got a break Wednesday when the judge sentenced him to 40 years in federal prison rather than life.
Fritz Gregory Anderson, 30, faced a life term because of the quantity of drugs, his leadership role and distribution to minors. And he didn't help himself when he expressed no remorse, minimized his conduct and accused the prosecutor of doing everything possible to put him away for life.
"I'm not a Mafia guy. I have love in my heart," Anderson said. "I'm not no evil person."
Anderson admitted that he "did some wrong" but said he didn't kill anyone. He was just partying, he said. Turning to face Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Seykora, Anderson said, "I don't know what I did so wrong to ya, man."
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull said Anderson's statement showed he was not remorseful for being one of the biggest drug dealers ever to appear in his court. "You don't have to kill somebody to be evil," the judge said.
The question was whether a life sentence was reasonable, Cebull said, and "my gut tells me yes." But, he added, it is becoming more difficult to declare life sentences reasonable in a drug cases, and "I don't believe life is a reasonable sentence in this case."
The 40-year sentence capped a 3½-hour hearing in which the prosecution and defense argued over drug quantities and other sentencing enhancements. There is no parole in the federal system. A prisoner with good behavior usually serves 85 percent of a sentence. Anderson's sentence included 35 years on the drug charges plus a mandatory consecutive five years on a firearm conviction.
The prosecution said Anderson's conspiracy involved multiple drugs and at least 35 other people, including several relatives. Twenty-five of those linked to Anderson have been convicted and sentenced in federal court on drug charges. They are serving a total of 244 years in prison. Anderson's sentence is the longest of all.
Anderson faced sentencing in two separate indictments in which juries convicted him on drug charges. In June, a Billings jury found him guilty on all 30 counts, which included 29 conspiracy and drug possession counts and one count of carrying a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
Seykora said Anderson, who came to Billings from California, conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana in Billings from 2004 until Feb. 23, 2007. His co-defendants included his cousin, Nathaniel Davis III, who was sentenced to 20 years, and Shantae Harris, who was sentenced to 30 months. Co-defendant Teal Rounds is awaiting sentencing.
A Helena jury convicted Anderson in March of distributing ecstasy and marijuana to a minor in Billings but acquitted him on sex exploitation and child pornography charges. Cebull held Anderson responsible for the equivalent of at least 30,000 kilograms of marijuana, which is about 66,000 pounds. He said Anderson dealt in many pounds of meth, cocaine and ecstasy and marijuana.
Seykora argued that Anderson was responsible for a maximum of more than 289,000 pounds of marijuana, when all of the drugs were tallied and converted to marijuana for sentencing purposes.
Anderson said he sold maybe five to six pounds of drugs in smaller quantities but "nobody ever bought a pound off me."
Anderson said the longest he'd spent in custody before the federal indictments was 45 days in California. He has been in custody almost two years while the federal charges were pending.
Defense attorney Brad Arndorfer argued for a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years, saying Anderson was a drug addict and such a term was "way beyond any attempt to rehabilitation someone." At 25 years, "most of his life is going to go by him," he said.
Seykora told the judge that Anderson sucked in young women, threatened witnesses and trafficked a lot of drugs.
"It's incredible what he got away with in California," he said. "It's time to pay the piper. He ruined a lot of lives."