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Helena area drug dealers LeClair and Stephens sentenced to federal prison

Posted at 3:38 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:09:56-04

HELENA – Two Butte residents connected to a fatal shooting at a Helena motel have been sentenced to prison on federal drug charges.

42 year-old Brandon James LeClair and 30 year-old Travis Holly Stephens pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and federal gun charged last October.

Federal prosecutors say LeClair had been dealing meth for Stephens in late 2016.

The pair traveled to Helena from Butte on January 24th to conduct an alleged drug deal.

Early the next morning, a fight broke out in a room at the Helena Motel 6 between LeClair, and Kenneth Purcell Jr.

The fight ended in the motel parking lot with Purcell shot and killed.

LeClair received a 14 year prison term. Stephens received nine years.

Back in October, County Attorney Leo Gallagher told MTN the homicide charge against LeClair was dropped in cooperation with federal prosecutors.


According to the Department of Justice:

Brandon James LeClair, a 42-year-old Butte resident, was sentenced today to 168 months in prison followed by 5 years supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine and felon in possession of a firearm on October 17, 2017. U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell handed down the sentence.

LeClair trafficked an ounce of methamphetamine each week from October 2016 until mid-December 2016 with his codefendant, Travis Stephens. Their drug trafficking allegedly stopped after LeClair stole a safe from Stephens in mid-December 2016. The safe contained one pound of methamphetamine and approximately $10,000.

On January 25, 2017, law enforcement was called to their Helena area motel room to investigate a violent confrontation. At that time, LeClair possessed a loaded Taurus 9mm pistol. LeClair’s criminal history includes two prior federal convictions for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in May 1999, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm in August 2007. LeClair was held responsible for distributing 12 ounces of methamphetamine. That converts to 2718 individual doses of the drug.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette Stewart and investigated by the Missouri River Drug Task Force, Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.


Travis Holly Stephens, a 30-year-old Butte resident, was sentenced today to 108 months in prison followed by 5 years supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on October 17, 2017. U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell handed down the sentence.

From October 2016 until January 2017, Stephens distributed methamphetamine herself and with others in Montana. On January 25, 2017, law enforcement responded to a disturbance at her Helena area motel room. Stephens was found with one pound of pure methamphetamine as well as a loaded Bersa firearm in her car trunk. She was held responsible for distributing one pound of methamphetamine. That converts to 3624 individual doses of the drug.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette Stewart and investigated by the Missouri River Drug Task Force and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.