Besides Nichols, the four partners in Montana Cannabis were arrested.
Three pleaded guilty to drug charges. Lobbyist Tom Daubert and attorney Chris Lindsey both received probation sentences and no jail time. Partner Richard Flor of Miles City received a five-year prison sentence but died within a few months of his incarceration.
The fourth partner, Chris Williams, went to trial and was found guilty of eight drug and weapons charges. He struck an unusual post-conviction plea agreement with prosecutors that reduced his possible prison time from more than 80 years to a mandatory minimum of five years.
Williams' sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1, but his attorney, federal public defender Michael Donahoe, has requested to withdraw from the case.
Williams has been consulting with another attorney and Donahoe believes Williams has lost all confidence in him, Donahoe wrote in his request for a hearing on the matter.
If Williams can afford an attorney or the attorney is willing to work for free, then he doesn't need a public defender, Donahoe wrote.
But there is nothing complex about Williams' upcoming sentencing, and if the new attorney is telling him something different, "then shame on him for impeding the administration of justice and giving Mr. Williams false hope," Donahoe wrote.
Williams wrote to Christensen in a handwritten letter from jail that he wanted guidance from the judge on how to proceed.
"The extraordinary circumstances of this case do warrant taking additional legal advice and possible new legal counsel," he wrote.