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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Feds call for 17+ years in coke bust

A man caught with cocaine in Utah as part of a major drug bust that led to a helicopter pilot's suicide in the Spokane County Jail faces at least 17 years in prison under a recommendation from federal prosecutors.

Leonard J. Ferris, 50, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He and Ross N. Legge, 53, were arrested Feb. 21 near Ogden, Utah in what the Drug Enforcement Administration describes in court papers as a routine traffic stop.

The men had a storage unit in Spokane Valley where they kept an ATV, trailer, and other items used in drug trafficking, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court in April. Legge is awaiting trial in Utah and is asking the court to suppress evidence and statements made by the two.

Legge was driving when the two were pulled over, according to court papers, but Ferris gave permission to search the car because it belonged to him. A state trooper found 83 kilograms of cocaine. Ferris pleaded guilty in April.

Two days after Ferris and Legge's arrest, Samuel Jackson Lindsay-Brown, 24, (right) landed a helicopter in the Colville National Forest with 426 pounds of marijuana federal drug agents say was to be exchanged to Ferris and Legge for the cocaine. He killed himself in jail Feb. 27.

Read my Sunday story here detailing the massive drug bust that included arrests in early 2008 and is tied to the violent United Nations gang in Vancouver, B.C.

Ferris' federal cocaine charge brings a standard sentence of 151 to 188 months (12.5+ to 15.6+ years).

The U.S. Attorney's Office is asking for Ferris' role in the crime to be considered - an "aggravating role adjustment" - which would set the sentence at 210 to 262 months (17.5 to 21.8 years), according to a sentencing memorandum filed Nov. 25.

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.