Justin Matthew Fletcher Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on February 5, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, JUSTIN MATTHEW FLETCHER, a 20-year-old resident of Great Falls, appeared for sentencing. FLETCHER was sentenced to a term of:
- Prison: 150 months
- Special Assessment: $200
- Restitution: $13,674
- Supervised Release: 3 years
FLETCHER was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to being a felon-in-possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On August 2, 2007, FLETCHER had been convicted of felony criminal endangerment and was thereby prohibited from possessing firearms.
Between November 1, 2007, and November 3, 2007, there were a string of vehicle break-ins in Great Falls and items of personal property were stolen from the vehicles as well as from a garage. Several firearms and several hundred rounds of ammunition were also reported as missing. An investigation revealed that FLETCHER and Ricky Darnell Cole were the parties responsible for the break-ins.
On November 4, 2007, FLETCHER was arrested on a probation violation and deputies found several guns at his residence. When questioned, FLETCHER admitted his involvement in the vehicle break-ins. FLETCHER also admitted he took several firearms, as well as numerous other items of personal property, and hid them at his residence.
FLETCHER denied any involvement beyond being the "driver" and said it was Cole and two juvenile females who took the majority of the property. Cole and the two juvenile females all stated that FLETCHER was the ringleader and was very involved in the break-ins and thefts.
FLETCHER'S mother called the police and reported her son had hidden stolen property, including several rifles, in her father's home where the family lived and she wanted them to come and remove them.
During a search of FLETCHER'S residence and a camper in the yard, officers recovered property reported stolen during the break-ins, including the firearms and ammunition.
The two juvenile females were interviewed and admitted their involvement in the thefts. They said FLETCHER had used them to enter the vehicles and hand out items of stolen property, including several guns. They stated that the group also used stolen cars to transport the stolen property during the thefts and caused damage to at least one of the stolen cars when it struck a garbage dumpster. The group also caused damage to almost all of the cars they broke into by breaking the windows to gain entry. The two females said Cole was only involved in the theft of a Ruger rifle and FLETCHER was responsible for the remainder of the firearm thefts, as well as the majority of the other thefts.
When questioned, Cole admitted to handling a rifle that was stolen from one of the vehicles and admitted that he knew he could not possess it because of a prior conviction. Cole also said FLETCHER was present when the rifle was taken.
Cole pled guilty to federal charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that FLETCHER will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, FLETCHER does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kory Larsen prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Great Falls Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.