News and Press Releases

andrew Scott Benningfield Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula, on April 3 2009, before U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, ANDREW SCOTT BENNINGFIELD, a 37-year-old resident of Whitefish, appeared for sentencing. BENNINGFIELD was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 21 months
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

BENNINGFIELD was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to possession of a firearm without a serial number.

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

On August 10, 2007, the Whitefish Police Department arrested BENNINGFIELD for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. At the time, officers located a firearm on BENNINGFIELD'S person.

The firearm was a six-inch long metal pipe with a metal cap attached to one end. It contained a nail-like object, similar to a firing pin that protruded from the metal end cap, and cloth covered the opposite end of the pipe. The cloth was secured by a pair of vice grips and a .30-.30 ammunition round was fastened inside the pipe by a rubber grommet.

A firearms enforcement officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would have testified that it was in fact a firearm capable of firing an ammunition cartridge. This firearm was not identified by manufacturer or serial number as required by law.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that BENNINGFIELD will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, BENNINGFIELD does 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 a cooperative effort between the Whitefish Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This conviction is yet another important outcome from Project Safe Neighborhoods, a national priority of the United States Department of Justice. PSN is designed as a partnership between federal and local law enforcement to reduce violent crime and gun-related crime through the vigorous enforcement of the criminal provisions of the federal firearms laws. In Montana, the effort under PSN is called "Catch and No Release."



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