News and Press Releases

Joshua Allen Mcknight and Phillip John Smith Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Helena, on March 12, 2009, before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell, JOSHUA ALLEN McKNIGHT and PHILLIP JOHN SMITH appeared for sentencing.

McKNIGHT was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 98 months, concurrent with another sentence
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

SMITH was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 120 months, concurrent with another sentence
  • Special Assessment: $200
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

They were sentenced in connection with their guilty pleas to possession of stolen firearms.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On May 11, 2007, after receiving a description of a vehicle involved in a burglary, Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency (BSBLEA) officers stopped a vehicle occupied by SMITH and the owner of the vehicle, McKNIGHT. Both were arrested on probation violations.

When questioned, McKNIGHT stated he had been directed by a person to burglarize a residence in Helena and steal the victim's firearms - the person had provided McKNIGHT with directions to the house. McKNIGHT and SMITH then committed the burglary. SMITH entered the house and let in McKNIGHT. McKNIGHT loaded the handguns into a tan duffle bag and SMITH took a .308 rifle and other items. They were on their way to meet the person when stopped by the BSBLEA.

The officers observed in plain view a loaded 10 mm pistol between the driver's seat and the gear shift. The officers conducted a search of the vehicle. They located four boxes of ammunition in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. They also located a tan bag full of handguns, a .308 rifle, and a written list of firearms with dollar amounts next to each firearm in the hatchback. They recovered a total of 19 firearms.

On June 15, 2007, when interviewed, McKNIGHT admitted to committing the burglary with SMITH and putting the handguns and magazines in the tan duffle bag. SMITH then took the rifle and other items. McKNIGHT further admitted the list of firearms and prices was made in his Butte apartment because SMITH did not know McKNIGHT had to turn them over to the people who ordered the burglary. McKNIGHT stated he purchased a total of four boxes of ammunition for the firearms in case things went badly. McKNIGHT further stated they were stopped and arrested after they exited in Rocker, where they were supposed to take the guns.

A fingerprint examiner would have testified that SMITH'S fingerprints were found on the firearms.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that they will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, they do have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette L. Stewart prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was conducted by the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Agency.



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