BILLINGS – Montana’s former Republican House majority leader from Billings pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal drug distribution charges.
Michael Lange, 56, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Billings to one count of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and one count of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.
There is no plea agreement in the case.
The investigation began in 2016, when agents with the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force learned that Lange was distributing a large amount of methamphetamine in the Billings area.
During that same time, agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation in Sheridan conducted a buy-and-bust operation for four ounces of methamphetamine from dealers who said Lange was their main supply source.
Agents followed up on this information and executed a search warrant on Lange’s residence. In Lange’s house, agents found 1,202 grams of methamphetamine, 442 grams of cocaine and $27,400 in cash.
Lange and his co-defendant, Jose Soltero, were interviewed by law enforcement.
Soltero admitted to assisting Lange in eight drug deals with people in California, according to court documents.
Lange admitted he obtained about 20 pounds of methamphetamine from Soltero and stated that 17 pounds of the drug were given to another person for distribution. Lange said he sold the remaining three pounds.
Lange, who was elected as a state representative from Billings in 2002, was ousted in 2007 after a profanity-laden outburst.
Lange lashed out at former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, calling him a “son of a bitch,” which was widely viewed on YouTube.
A date for sentencing has yet to be set.
MTN’s Aja Goare