Michael File 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 Missoula on December 16, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, MICHAEL FILE, a 33-year-old resident of Cody, Wyoming, pled guilty to robbery and the use of a firearm during a crime of violence. Sentencing is set for December 15, 2010. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara J. Elliott, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On September 3, 2009, at approximately 1:00 p.m., a Missoula County Sheriff's deputy observed a white pickup sideswipe a blue pickup with both vehicles continuing to travel down the road. The deputy activated his top lights and began to pursue. After a few turns on side streets, the deputy saw that the white pickup had rolled over onto its top and that the blue pickup had crashed through the fence of a house.
The deputy observed a tall male in a blue shirt yelling at another male (hereinafter "W1"). The deputy observed another male climbing out of the driver's side door of the white pickup (later identified as FILE). He also saw a female walking away from the crash who was later apprehended by law enforcement in a nearby alleyway and identified as Skye Bruns.
Another deputy arrived on scene and W1 blurted out, "There's five pounds of pot and $12,000 in that truck." W1 pointed to a blue backpack that was at the back end of the rolled truck and said that it belonged to him. W1 said that the five pounds of marijuana and cash were in the backpack. W1 went on to explain that he was a drug dealer and that the other male individual, FILE, and Bruns had just tried to "rip" him. W1 said that he was chasing them but they wouldn't stop so he purposely crashed into them.
At the accident location, several backpacks and packs were lying on the ground and partially in the back area of FILE'S overturned pick-up truck. The other individual, FILE, and Bruns separately denied owning the blue backpack identified by W1 as the backpack stolen from him and which was later found to contain approximately 5 pounds of marijuana and $12,480. The other individual, FILE, and Bruns each claimed all the other packs.
W1 said he had been dealing marijuana for a little over a year. W1 said that his friend, (hereinafter "W2") told him that he knew some people that wanted to buy 10 pounds of marijuana. W1 let W2 make the arrangements for the deal. At 10:30 a.m., W1 and W2 drove to the Inn on Broadway and went to room 230. Upon entering the room, W1 and W2 met the other male individual and Bruns. FILE arrived in the room a few minutes later. W1 had five pounds of marijuana with him in his backpack, and if the deal went well, W1 planned on obtaining another five pounds for a net sale of 10 pounds for $30,000. W1 said he had $12,000 in his backpack from previous marijuana sales.
W1 further stated he and W2 arrived at the hotel room and initially met with the other male individual and Bruns. A few minutes later FILE arrived. Some time later, the other individual walked to the bed and pulled a handgun out from between the box spring and mattress. He turned towards W1 and said, "Now, I am God." The individual told W1 that things were going to happen his way from this point forward.
During the transaction, the individual told W1 to give his backpack with the marijuana to Bruns. W1 protested and stated that he had $12,000 in the backpack that was his. The individual instructed W1 and W2 to give their cellular telephones to Bruns and told her to disconnect the hotel room phone cord as well and put the cord in her purse, which she did. The individual also instructed Bruns and FILE to take the backpack with the marijuana and their bags to FILE'S truck, which they did. The individual told W1 not to worry and that they were not going to rip him off. After a few minutes, the individual left the room.
W1 looked out the window and saw the individual get into the passenger side door of the white pickup. FILE was in the driver's seat and Bruns was in the bed of the truck, which had a canopy top. FILE began driving out of the parking lot and W1 knew that he was being ripped off.
W1 sprinted to his blue pickup and began to pursue the white pickup. W1 got behind the white pickup and started "tapping his bumper." FILE was not going to stop and began to drive faster. W1 eventually hit the side of the white pickup causing it to roll.
The backpacks that were found at the accident scene which came out of FILE'S vehicle were searched. Law enforcement found approximately five pounds of marijuana, $12,480 U.S. Currency, and miscellaneous paperwork in W1's name inside the backpack identified by W1 as the one that was stolen from him at gunpoint. Inside a second pack, paperwork belonging to FILE and a Smith and Wesson model 40VE handgun with a loaded magazine were recovered.
Bruns pled guilty to federal charges and is awaiting sentencing.
FILE faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 5 years supervised release. In addition, FILE faces the possibility of an additional mandatory seven year imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, for the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.