A federal judge sentenced a Minnesota man to 10 years in prison Monday for buying more than one pound of methamphetamine in the Twin Cities and attempting to sell it on the White Earth Indian Reservation.
Michael Jacob Blandford, 28, pleaded guilty to felony possession with intent to sell meth earlier this year. On March 18, 2019, a Minnesota State Patrol officer pulled Blandford over in Motley, Minn., for failing to abide the speed limit. The trooper searched the car after seeing paraphernalia and found 490 grams of meth, according to court documents.
Blandford and the lone passenger, Matthew Jon Leigland, were both booked in Morrison County jail. Leigland told police they’d traveled from the reservation to St. Paul to meet a meth connection. They also stopped at a Super 8 motel in Monticello, where Leigland picked up a backpack from a woman called “Ann.” Leigland said he knew they planned to transport meth back to the reservation, but he didn’t know it was so much.
In a video hearing Monday, Blandford’s attorney, Jennifer Rose Congdon, said drug addiction fueled her client’s crimes. Blandford grew up in a household that normalized drugs, and he started using marijuana and alcohol at age 10, then moved to harder stuff in his early teens.
“Addiction has driven nearly all of Mr. Blandford’s decisions over the last 18 years,” she said. “And he accepts that those decisions have gotten to him where he is today.”
In her sentencing, Judge Nancy E. Brasel acknowledged the power addiction took over Blandford’s life, which played a role in his eight felony convictions. In her time on the bench, she told Blandford, she’s “rarely seen an addiction history as long and entrenched as yours.”
Brasel recommended Blandford for an addiction program in federal prison. “I’m very hopeful that you can use this lengthy sentence and term of imprisonment to finally beat an addiction problem that has been with you all your life,” she said.
Leigland has also reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and is awaiting sentencing.