Christopher Cleveland Sentenced in U.S. District Court
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 28, 2013|
The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on August 28, 2013, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, Christopher Cleveland, a 34-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. Cleveland was sentenced to a term of:
- Prison: 72 months
- Special assessment: $100
- Supervised release: five years
Cleveland was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
In an offer of proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Cleveland came to the attention of law enforcement officers as part of the large drug case. Cleveland was identified as a person who purchased large amounts of methamphetamine from Las Vegas on behalf of supplier Howard Bonifant in Billings to distribute to his distributor network here. Other witnesses identified Cleveland as a distribution source from Bonifant. At first, Cleveland received the methamphetamine from Sheila Coffman, who received it directly from the Vegas source beginning in January 2010. Later in 2010, Coffman got out of the ring and introduced Cleveland to the Vegas sources, and he then began getting it directly from Johnathan Balbin, Antonio Taylor, and Justin Fultz. Cleveland received significantly more than several pounds from each of the suppliers during the time he was involved. His involvement ended in November 2010 when Taylor was arrested in Billings.
When questioned, Cleveland admitted his role within the conspiracy but noted that he had discontinued his involvement and had been clean for the last several years.
Bonifant, Coffman, Balbin, Taylor, and Fultz pled guilty to federal charges and have been sentenced.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the “truth in sentencing” guidelines mandate that Cleveland will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Cleveland does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for “good behavior.” However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Billings Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force, the Billings Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.