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Man cleared in Flathead murder now jailed on meth charges

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | November 28, 2020 12:00 AM

A Northwest Montana man cleared of murder charges earlier this year in the Flathead Valley is behind bars on federal gun and drug charges.

Leon Paul Kavis, 36, of Missoula, has been implicated in a large methamphetamine drug operation that includes Neo-Nazi prison gang Aryan Brotherhood and the Sinaloa Cartel, once led by the infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Kavis shot and killed Timothy Kuchinski Sept. 10 at a Trumble Creek residence. Kavis was arrested but released Sept. 14 after the County Attorney’s Office decided to not file charges.

“There were elements of self-defense and justifiable use of force in this incident,” County Attorney Travis Ahner said at the time. “One of the witnesses said the victim was armed with a gun when he entered the home.”

Both men had lengthy criminal records.

Kuchinski faced burglary charges in Flathead County in 2006. He also had charges for criminal endangerment, forgery and theft on his record.

In January 2004, Kavis was arrested for trying to sell methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver and received a 15-year sentence with 10 suspended to the Montana State Prison in November 2005.

In March 2005, Kavis was charged with possession with intent to deliver and possession of a switchblade knife. In August 2005, he received a 10-year suspended sentence.

Then, in December 2009, Kavis was arrested for striking a woman’s car with a baseball bat and ramming it after a near collision in a parking lot. He received a five-year suspended sentence to the Montana State Prison and had to perform 100 hours of community service.

In January 2010, Kavis was resentenced to 10 years with five suspended on the 2005 drug charge following the parking lot incident.

Charging documents against Kavis in the federal case reveal an alleged criminal conspiracy spanning a number of states and individuals. Confidential informants who feared for their lives helped federal and local investigators unravel the alleged drug ring.

One informant said Kavis received meth from California and sold it in Kalispell, Missoula and Great Falls. Some of the meth arrived in packages shipped in the mail.

One informant said Kavis pointed a semi-automatic handgun at him and it was the same type of gun used to kill Kuchinski.

Different informants described seeing Kavis with tens of thousands of dollars and various guns, including AK-47 style semi-automatic rifles.

One informant claimed Kavis killed Kuchinski because he stole several thousands of dollars from Kavis. But another alleged the murder was over a girl because Kavis was jealous of Kuchinski. An informant also alleged it was likely Kavis planted a gun on Kuchinski to make it look like self-defense.

According to court documents, Kavis was implicated in receiving large shipments of meth from the Aryan Brotherhood after FBI agents in California used wiretaps and other sources.

Kavis allegedly was heard on the phone telling a woman he wanted to “kill a bunch of FBI faggots.”

According to a story in the Missoulian, Kavis and another man charged in the conspiracy, Dylan Roy Mace, were arrested Nov. 18 after a standoff with FBI officers.

Kavis made his initial appearance in federal court in Missoula Nov. 19. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

Kavis and Mace are being held in the Missoula County Detention Center.

Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or at sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com