A former Montana house legislator is sentenced in federal court today after pleading guilty on federal drug charges last year.
Judge Susan Watters sentenced 57 year-old Michael David Lange to 18 years in a federal prison.
In the original indictment, Lange is charged with conspiring with intent to possess and distribute 500 or more grams of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
The charges relate to an investigation conducted between April and October 2016.
When a search warrant was seized on October 11th, 2016, investigators recovered more than 1,200 grams of methamphetamine, more than 400 grams of cocaine and $27,000.
Detective Michael Robinson identified Lange as the leader of the the drug operation. .
Robinson also linked 15 people others to Lange’s distribution network.
Investigators used Lange’s phone to identify the co-conspirators text messages.
Robinson said Lange was compliant when working with detectives, giving them key dates and locations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Sullivan pinpointed Lange as the manager in this drug operation, calling him the “engine” of the operation and his co-defendant Jose Soltero the “gas.”
Lange provided a heartfelt apology in court, claiming he was directed by misguided friendships and stated he had no ill will towards anyone.
Over the course of this operation, Lange sent more than $70,000 to his drug source in California.
As sentencing concluded Judge Watters turned to Lange, challenging his apology as she felt he did not accept full responsibility for his actions.
Judge Watters said this case is an example of how drug abuse can target anyone and at any age, given Lange is a successful politician with no known history of mental illness or rough upbringing.