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Ex-'Mountain Man' gets 4 years on drug charge

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013

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.

Nichols was the younger half of a father-son duo dubbed "The Mountain Men" who kidnapped biathlete Kari Swenson in 1984. His father, Don Nichols, killed a man who tried to rescue her, while Dan Nichols accidently shot Swenson and left her to die. Swenson survived, but with diminished lung capacity from the gunshot wound.

Dan Nichols, who was 20 at the time, was convicted of kidnapping and misdemeanor assault and received a 10-year prison sentence. His father remains in prison after being convicted of killing would-be rescuer Alan Goldstein.

Dan Nichols was not immediately arrested after the 2011 raid on Montana Cannabis. That summer, he fled from Jefferson County sheriff's deputies who broke up an apparent drug deal Nichols was making at an outdoor concert, prosecutors said.

Nichols remained on the run until May, when U.S. marshals aided by the Butte-Silver Bow sheriff's office arrested Nichols in Butte.


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