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After serving years in state prison, Raymond Lee Toulouse Jr. was released in 2015 to a half-way house in Billings where he was working and looking forward to moving into an apartment with his pregnant girlfriend.

Needing money, Toulouse, 32, of Billings, agreed to drop off a package to a person for Chance Dehart, another pre-release resident who had to go to a parole board hearing.

Toulouse didn’t look inside the package or ask what it contained when he delivered it on May 19, 2015.

The delivery lasted less than 30 seconds and the communication amounted to, “Here you go” and “Thanks for meeting me,” said Toulouse’s lawyer, Palmer Hoovestal of Helena.

The package contained about a half-ounce of 98 percent pure methamphetamine, and the recipient was a confidential informant in a task force investigation into distribution activity by Dehart.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Watters of Billings sentenced Toulouse to a minimum mandatory five years in prison for the delivery. Toulouse pleaded guilty earlier to possession with intent to distribute as part of plea agreement in which other counts were dismissed.

Watters ran the sentence concurrent with Toulouse’s state term. Toulouse was sentenced in Great Falls in 2004 to 40 years with some time suspended for conviction on aggravated kidnapping and to 20 years for assault with a weapon. He was 18 at the time.

Both Hoovestal and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Sullivan recommended the five-year term, which took precedence over a shorter guideline range.

In addition to the federal sentence, Toulouse is facing a state parole revocation hearing.

Toulouse made no comments at his sentencing hearing.

Hoovestal said Toulouse seemed to have been born under “an unlucky star.” His parents separated when he was a boy and he had little contact with his father and no significant male guidance, he said.

Toulouse dropped out of high school and ended up in prison from 2004 until his release to the Alpha House in Billings in February 2015.

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There, he met Dehart. Toulouse didn’t know Dehart had been dealing meth, Hoovestal said.

Sullivan said task force officers investigating Dehart used an informant to make four meth buys from Dehart.

Dehart agreed to sell the informant a half-ounce on May 19, 2015, but had to go to a parole hearing instead and enlisted Toulouse’s help, Sullivan said.

Toulouse sold the meth to the informant for $1,200 in a recorded and monitored delivery, Sullivan said.

Dehart, who was indicted on drug charges and convicted separately, is awaiting sentencing on June 30.

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Federal Court, Yellowtone County Reporter

Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.