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Flathead Valley Father-Son Duo Charged with Cocaine Trafficking
Defendants pleaded not guilty to federal charges of cocaine distribution
A father-son duo from the Flathead Valley has pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy charges of cocaine trafficking.

Benjamin S. Hineman, 29, and his father, Scott J. Hineman, both appeared in U.S. District Court in Missoula last week on seven felony drug charges, including conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine, and possession of a firearm.

The men appeared at a Feb. 12 arraignment hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch and entered not guilty pleas to all seven counts.

If convicted of the charges, they face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum punishment of 10 years imprisonment, while the charges of possession with intent to distribute carry a penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and at least three years supervised release.

Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.

The younger Hineman faces one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, five counts of possession with the intent to distribute and one count of possessing a firearm; the elder faces one count of conspiracy, two counts of possession with intent to distribute, three counts of distribution, and one fount of firearm possession.

Both men are released on special conditions.

According to charging documents filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Elliott, a grand jury alleged that beginning in May 2010 and continuing through April 2013, the men conspired to sell five kilograms or more of cocaine in Flathead County.

The Hinemans both worked at Oriental Secrets, the family-owned rug store in Whitefish, and previously lived in Tucson, Ariz.
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