Joshua D. Qualls Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on October 1, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, JOSHUA D. QUALLS, a 23-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to theft of firearms from a federal licensee. Sentencing is set for December 30, 2009. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Zink, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On February 3, 2009, DaddyO's Pawn Shop in Billings was burglarized. The burglary was committed in the early morning hours after a stolen vehicle was driven through the front windows of the store. During the burglary, two firearms were stolen, a Cobra model 380, .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol and a Taurus model 24/7 9mm semi-automatic pistol. DaddyO's Pawn Shop is a federally licensed dealer of firearms.
On February 17, 2009, Billings police detectives received an anonymous tip that QUALLS was involved in the DaddyO's Pawn Shop burglary. Following this tip, and through witness interviews, QUALLS and another male were identified as the suspects. Witnesses told police that QUALLS admitted to them that he and another male were responsible for breaking into DaddyO's.
On March 12, 2009, when interviewed, QUALLS admitted that he and another male were involved in the burglary of DaddyO's. QUALLS described the events that he could remember, including the theft of a Ford Expedition. QUALLS said after they stole the Expedition, he and the other male drove two vehicles to the area, parking one. Then QUALLS said he got into the Expedition with the other male. QUALLS said the other male drove the Expedition through the front of the store, while QUALLS braced himself. QUALLS said they left the Expedition in the store and fled on foot to the other vehicle and drove away.
QUALLS said he did not remember everything, due to ingesting methamphetamine, but he did recall handling two firearms afterward. QUALLS was unable to recall the location of the two stolen guns and they have not yet been recovered. The business itself was heavily damaged during the burglary and theft.
QUALLS faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Billings Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.