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Former Montana legislator faces federal drug charges

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former Montana lawmaker, who in 2007 supported giving $4 million in state money to the Montana Meth Project, has denied federal charges that say he possessed and sold just over a pound of methamphetamine last year.

Former House Majority Leader Michael Lange of Billings pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal drug distribution and possession charges, The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/2lkuX3I ) reported. He was booked into jail on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan ordered Lange to remain in custody.

Attorney Ashley Harada reserved the right to request a bail hearing for Lange, 56.

Federal prosecutors say Lange distributed over 500 grams of meth, at least 1.1 pounds, between April and October 2016. Each count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.

Lange served as majority leader during the 2007 Legislature, but House Republicans stripped him of his title at the end of the session. He had been captured on video at a caucus in April swearing about then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer and negotiations with the Democrat over the budget.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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