Eric James Wellington Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on July 6, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, ERIC JAMES WELLINGTON, a 22-year-old resident of Great Falls, pled guilty to being a felon-in-possession of a firearm. Sentencing has been set for October 18, 2010. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kory Larsen, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On October 31, 2007, WELLINGTON was convicted of felony theft and of felony criminal endangerment on June 19, 2008. Both convictions were in Cascade County. As a result of these convictions, he was prohibited from possessing firearms.
On November 30, 2009, a Montana game warden received a call from a local game processor who reported that WELLINGTON brought in a mule deer for processing and the processor suspected it had been taken after the season had closed. The game warden's investigation led him to conclude that WELLINGTON had committed a state fish and game violation.
The warden and WELLINGTON's probation officer went to WELLINGTON's home to talk to him about the issue. When questioned, WELLINGTON admitted he shot the mule deer out of season, using a Savage model 110, .308 caliber rifle to shoot the animal. The rifle was found in his residence, which he stated came from a friend. WELLINGTON also admitted he was a felon and knew he was not allowed to possess any firearms.
WELLINGTON faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Montana Probation and Parole, 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.