Christopher Steven Ritter Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on May 22, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, CHRISTOPHER STEVEN RITTER, a 22-year-old resident of Great Falls, pled guilty to distribution of methamphetamine and receipt of unregistered firearms. Sentencing has been set for September 10, 2012. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette L. Stewart, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
RITTER, and/or another individual associated with RITTER, sold methamphetamine to undercover officers on March 2, March 9, and March 15, 2012 in Great Falls. Between December 2011 and February 2012, RITTER sold marijuana to undercover officers.
In mid-February, a discussion about machineguns started between RITTER and the undercover officers. A week later, RITTER told one of the undercover officers that he understood that the "choppers" were full-automatic and illegal. RITTER also confirmed his interest in a handgun.
On March 12th, one of the undercover officers met with RITTER and the other individual in Great Falls. During this meeting, RITTER and the individual discussed the purchase of four, fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles and two handguns by RITTER and the individual. The individual stated that he would provide the undercover officer with two ounces of methamphetamine and one ounce of cocaine in exchange for the firearms and some other items. The three agreed to meet on Thursday (March 15, 2012) to complete this exchange.
On March 15th, RITTER and the individual met two undercover officers in a parking lot in Great Falls. The individual produced two ounces of methamphetamine and one ounce of cocaine and showed them to the undercover officers. The undercover officers, along with RITTER and the individual then drove to a different location in Great Falls.
Upon arrival at that location, the undercover officers showed RITTER and the individual four AK-47 rifles and two handguns that had been provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the enforcement action. After viewing the firearms, RITTER and the individual gave the two ounces of methamphetamine and one ounce of cocaine to the undercover officers and took the firearms from the undercover officers. RITTER and the individual were then taken into custody.
An analysis by a chemist confirmed that all of the purported methamphetamine purchased from RITTER in this case did in fact contain methamphetamine. RITTER was responsible for roughly three ounces of methamphetamine.
All four of the AK-47 rifles are machineguns and not registered to RITTER or the individual in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
RITTER faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years and could be sentenced to 40 years, a $5,000,000 fine, and four years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Air Force - Office of Special Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration Chemist, the Great Falls Police Department, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.