News and Press Releases

Mellette County Burglary Suspects Make Initial Appearance in US Magistrate Court for Federal Firearm Violations

January 14, 2011
Contact: Mark E. Salter
Assistant United States Attorney

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that on January 7, 2011, Wayne C. Richards, age 19, and Earl D. Dowty, age 45, were charged by criminal complaint for Possession of a Stolen Firearm. The charge arises from a November 24, 2010, home burglary in rural Mellette County in which firearms were stolen and a resident of the home was shot. The burglary and shooting are under investigation by state authorities. The federal firearms violations are being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.

Dowty was arrested on the Rosebud Reservation and appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on January 10, 2011, for his initial appearance. Richards surrendered to authorities on the Pine Ridge Reservation and appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on January 14, 2011, for his initial appearance. Both men will be arraigned at a later date. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both; up to 3 years of supervised release; and a $100 special assessment. Restitution may also be ordered. The charges are merely accusations, and Richards and Dowty are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The investigation is a multi-jurisdictional effort coordinated by the United States Attorney’s Office, the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office, and the Mellette County State’s Attorney. Law enforcement efforts are being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. The Mellette County Sheriff’s Department, Rosebud Law Enforcement Services, Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, the ATF, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are key agencies involved in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Marie H. Ruettgers is prosecuting the case. Richards and Dowty were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal. A trial date has not yet been set.

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