News and Press Releases

Lemuel Thomas Small and Christina Pilkington Small Found Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The United States Attorney's Office announced that on August 31, 2011, in Billings, after a federal district court trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, LEMUEL THOMAS SMALL and CHRISTINA PILKINGTON SMALL, both 64-years-old and residents of Busby, were found guilty of felon in possession of a firearm. Sentencing for both defendants is set for November 23, 2011. They are currently released on special conditions.

On or about May 12, 2010, agents with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Drug Enforcement Administration went to the Small residence on Highway 314, south of Busby, Montana. The purpose of the meeting was to serve LEMUEL SMALL with a Grand Jury subpoena. The agents were met at the front door by LEMUEL SMALL and were invited into the residence to discuss the subpoena. SMALL advised that the only other person inside the residence was his wife CHRISTINA SMALL.

Agents spoke to SMALL in the kitchen area of the residence. While speaking with SMALL, an agent observed several boxes of ammunition on top of the refrigerator. SMALL eventually became very agitated and ordered agents to leave his property.

A subsequent criminal history check of both LEMUEL and CHRISTINA SMALL showed that both had been previously convicted of a federal felony offense under 21 U.S.C. 846, Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana-punishable for a term of imprisonment of more than one year-on or about July 2, 2003.

Based upon his observations of the ammunition and the defendants' felony conviction, the agent applied for a federal search warrant. On May 21, 2010, a search warrant was issued for the SMALL residence.

On or about May 25, 2010, agents executed the search warrant at the SMALL residence. Upon arrival, agents found both LEMUEL and CHRISTINA SMALL inside. LEMUEL SMALL told agents that they were the only persons residing at the home. During the search, agents found a Ruger Vaquero, 44 magnum handgun in the master bedroom dresser. They also found three rifles in the master bedroom closet: 1) a Marlin 94, .22 Winchester magnum rifle; 2) a Remington 12 gauge shotgun; and 3) a Remington Model 700, 300 Winchester magnum. Additionally, agents found numerous boxes of various caliber ammunition on top of a dresser located in the master bedroom closet in plain view. Also in the top drawer of that same dresser they found a leather handgun holster and other miscellaneous ammunition.

Moreover, agents found one box of .300 Winchester rounds in plain view on a shelf in the pantry/closet across from the bathroom. They further found one .300 Winchester round and two .40 Smith & Wesson rounds in the laundry room drawer. Agents also found two .410 gauge shotgun shells on top of the refrigerator.

Agents further discovered a document entitled United States District Court for the District of Montana "Gun/Ammunition Notification" form belonging to LEMUEL SMALL. The form specifically states:

I have been advised by the United States Probation Officer that it is unlawful for a convicted felon to own, use or possess a firearm or ammunition, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g). I have been instructed that if I have any questions whatsoever as to interpretation of the provisions of the law and its application to me, I should seek the advice of an attorney.

I further understand that, even after completion of the period of supervision, the provisions of this law may continue to apply unless relief is granted by the Delegate of the Secretary of the Treasury.

The form was signed on April 14, 2004, by a United States Probation Officer and the defendant LEMUEL SMALL.

Additionally, during the search agents observed a bumper sticker affixed to the refrigerator with magnets which stated, "I'm Out of Estrogen AND I HAVE A GUN."

Photographs were taken during the search depicting the evidence discussed above and its location in the residence.

None of the firearms or ammunition were manufactured in the State of Montana. Accordingly, the firearms and ammunition must have traveled in and affected interstate commerce at some point prior to May 25, 2010.

Evidence showed that the ATF performed a trace on the firearms found during the search revealing that the Marlin 94, .22 Winchester magnum rifle, serial number F728063 was purchased by the LEMUEL SMALL, from Lammers Trading Post, in Hardin, Montana on or about March 17, 1999.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker prosecuted the case for the United States.

Each defendant faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.



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