Lewistown man pleads guilty to cooking meth

Charlie Denison

David Lawrence Schein is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison for cooking meth. Sentencing is set for May 4

Photo courtesy of Fergus County Sheriff’s Department

A Lewistown man could face up to 20 years in prison for his role making methamphetamine on a ranch near Grass Range.

David Lawrence Schein, 50, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture meth on Thursday, Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court in Billings during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.

According to a news release from the Fergus County Sheriff’s Department, federal prosecutors alleged, “Schein conspired with others to make methamphetamine and then dumped the waste onto Bureau of Land Management lands in Petroleum County.” The action, according to the news release, took place between April and September of 2015.

It was in late September of 2015 that Petroleum and Fergus county sheriff’s departments teamed up with BLM law enforcement officers and rangers and responded to “a reported dump of several plastic bottles that had been used to make meth on BLM lands adjacent to a ranch in Petroleum County,” assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Rubich said in a release.

While on the scene, Rubich said officers found “several plastic bottles used to cook meth and other drug-making waste materials.” And, as they inspected the site, Schein drove by in a truck and “threw a black backpack out the window and onto the road,” according to the news release.

Schein was pulled over by Fergus County Undersheriff Rick Vaughn and Deputy Ryan Peterson.

“We arrested [Schein] on a misdemeanor charge for driving without a driver’s license,” Vaughn told the News-Argus. “We ceased the vehicle and, after a search, a sizeable amount of meth was located.”

The amount of meth was more than what’s typical for one user, Vaughn added.

According to the news release, a trailer on the ranch where Schein had been living was also searched. Officers “turned up more plastic bottles cleaned in preparation for meth cooking, a variety of items covered in meth residue and a small amount of meth.”

The federal government seized all evidence, Vaughn said, as Schein was allegedly cooking the dangerous drug on BLM lands.

“People take their public lands seriously,” Vaughn said.

Schein admitted to cooking meth for personal use during the hearing last week but denied throwing the backpack, which Rubich said contained a plastic bottle actively cooking meth.

A sentencing hearing is set for May 4 and faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

He remains in custody.









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