Prison not negligent in Miles City man's death

HELENA — A magistrate judge has concluded that a private prison in Shelby is not to blame for the death of a medical marijuana provider who was incarcerated there.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby on Wednesday recommended the dismissal of a negligence lawsuit filed by the wife of Richard Flor against Corrections Corporation of America.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters must approve the recommendation.

The 68-year-old Flor his son Justin and wife Sherry were arrested in June 2011 for conducting medical marijuana operations from their Miles City home and across the state. They were sentenced in April 2012.

Flor died later that year of colon cancer while in custody at the prison. 

Flor’s wife says Flor was treated like “an abandoned dog” instead of being properly cared for at the prison.

Ostby agreed with attorneys for the prison who said Sherry Flor was unable to prove that her husband did not receive adequate medical care.

Flor had been sentenced to 60 months in prison and his Miles City home, firearms and money were forfeited.

The federal court records showed the following:

— the Flors and others manufactured marijuana in Miles City for years.

— In early 2009 they expanded the business and ended up having a series of large greenhouses in Three Forks and Helena, which distributed medical marijuana in Helena, Missoula, Billings and Miles City. 

— They deposited the money they made in several bank accounts, totaling more than $1 million. 

— In March 2011 federal agents seized 950 marijuana plants from the Helena greenhouses alone.

— A large number of firearms were seized in Helena and Miles City.

The investigation involved more than 30 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives; and the Internal Revenue Service.

In 2004 Montana became the 10th state to vote to legalize medical marijuana, effective in 2005, but it was still illegal to grow, sell, purchase or use marijuana under federal law.

This case was part of the first federal state-wide crackdown on Montana growers.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)