Collins Ray Russell Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings on February 3, 2010, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, COLLINS RAY RUSSELL, a 22-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Sentencing is set for May 6, 2010. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Harper Suek, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On March 1, 2009, law enforcement received information that RUSSELL was driving from Billings toward the Northern Cheyenne Reservation with marijuana. They were also provided a description of the car. Big Horn County and Crow law enforcement kept a look-out for the car and advised Northern Cheyenne law enforcement as it passed through their jurisdictions. When the car arrived in Busby, law enforcement pulled over the car because another male occupant of the car had an outstanding tribal warrant for domestic violence. RUSSELL, a federal felon on supervised release at the time, was driving. He gave permission for the officer to look in the trunk. The trunk had a strong odor of marijuana. RUSSELL quickly shut the trunk and tried to divert the officer's attention by telling him that there was alcohol in the car. All of the occupants (RUSSELL, another male and a woman) were arrested for possession of alcohol.
In a search conducted after the arrests, a gun was found under the dashboard in the center between the passenger and driver. About 11/2 pounds of marijuana were found in the trunk.
Witnesses confirmed that RUSSELL had guns, and was seen with a similar handgun prior to the stop. His fingerprints were found on a cartridge that was seized along with the gun from the car. Pictures of RUSSELL holding the gun were on RUSSELL's cell phone.
RUSSELL faces possible penalties of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 2 years supervised release. In addition, RUSSELL faces an additional mandatory five year imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence, for the use or possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.