MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man who previously served time for kidnapping a biathlete with his father in the 1980s is headed back to prison after a judge sentenced him Thursday for his role as security guard at a medical marijuana operation raided in a crackdown.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy sentenced Dan Nichols to four years in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for his guilty plea to conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises.
Molloy also ordered Nichols to pay $288,000 in fines, required him to spend 500 hours in a residential drug-treatment program and barred him from firearms, controlled substances and medical marijuana.
Prosecutors cited Nichols' violent history in asking for a sentence of just under six years, while his attorney said a three-year sentence would be more appropriate because of Nichols' minor role in the operation.
Montana Cannabis' Helena greenhouse and dispensaries across the state were among the 26 medical marijuana locations raided on March 14, 2011, in a federal investigation into large pot providers. Nichols provided security for the greenhouse, where 950 plants along with processed marijuana and marijuana products were confiscated.
He and Montana Cannabis' four co-owners all pleaded guilty to federal drug charges, despite the owners saying they were following state law in running the operation. One co-owner, Chris Williams, reached his plea agreement after a jury convicted him of eight drug and weapons charges.