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Leichty pleads guilty to possession with intent to distribute

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | November 30, 2021 7:00 AM

A man accused of bringing methamphetamine into Libby via train and selling it locally pleaded guilty last week to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute.

Authorities initially charged Jared Leichty with intent to distribute as well as two counts of use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture following his August arrest. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges in Lincoln County District Court before striking a deal with prosecutors in late November.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors will recommend Leichty spend three years with the state Department of Corrections and forfeit the property at the center of the two dismissed charges as well as pay all costs and fines.

Local authorities learned of Leichty’s presence in Libby after an informant tipped off detectives with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 21. Detectives Dan Holskey and Brandon Holzer arranged for a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Leichty and his accomplice, Patricia Stahl, at a local lodging house.

After the informant returned to the detectives with several grams of a white, crystalline substance that tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine, the duo arranged for a search warrant. Taking Leichty and Stahl into custody, authorities searched the room. The sweep turned up pipes, methamphetamine-laden baggies, syringes both empty and loaded, cash, heroin and a scale, among other items, according to court documents.

In interviews at the Lincoln County Detention Center, Leichty and Stahl divulged aspects of their operation in Libby. Investigators learned that Leichty bought the methamphetamine in bulk in Washington state, paying about $1,000 for a quarter pound. The pair had sold eight balls of methamphetamine for about $150 each in the Libby area, according to court documents.

After arriving in town on the train, the two traded drugs for a vehicle from a local man and later allegedly recruited him to arrange sales.

Leichty told investigators that most of the money from the drugs had gone to lodging, alcohol and gambling. He said the four grams of heroin found in the hotel room belonged to his accomplice.

Stahl reached an agreement with prosecutors in October, pleading guilty to a single count of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute. Stahl received a seven-year sentence with the state Department of Corrections with four years suspended. She received credit for time served.

The local man who allegedly agreed to help the pair sell methamphetamine in and around Libby, Tyler Wilkes, continues to work through the court system. Also arrested in August, Wilkes was charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, a felony, and misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.

Leichty’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 27.