A Fairview man accused in a large methamphetamine trafficking case in the Bakken oil fields denied federal charges in U.S. District Court in Billings on Thursday.
Eugene Vernon Laroche, 48, pleaded not guilty to a two-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to possess meth for distribution and with possession with intent to distribute.
Laroche is the latest to be indicted in a multi-agency investigation in early 2013 into meth trafficking that brought the drug from Washington for distribution in the Eastern Montana communities near the Bakken oil fields along with distribution in Billings, Livingston, Columbus, Bozeman and Whitehall.
More than a dozen men and women have been indicted while most have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing, including Robert Armstrong, of Washington. Armstrong, also known as “Dr. Bob,” was the leader of the conspiracy. He used a network of people to transport and distribute meth, prosecutors said.
The indictment alleges Laroche distributed meth from about April 2012 until October 2013 in Sidney and Fairview.
If convicted of the conspiracy count, Laroche faces a minimum mandatory 10 years to life in prison and a possible $10 million fine.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby ordered Laroche to remain in custody pending further orders of the court. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.
Laroche was arrested earlier in June on a state probation violation, said his attorney, Assistant Federal Defender Steve Babcock. Laroche had been sentenced in 2013 to a partially-suspended two-year sentence out of Richland County for a drunken driving conviction, state records said.