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Press Release

Big Timber felon sentenced to 46 months in prison for illegal possession of firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

BILLINGS  —  A Big Timber man with a felony record was sentenced today to 46 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted to illegally possessing three loaded firearms, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

James Edward Dempster, 43, pleaded guilty in May 2022 to prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that in 2014, Dempster was convicted in U.S. District Court of a felony drug crime and prohibited from possessing firearms. In November 2021, a Sweet Grass County Sheriff’s deputy made a traffic stop in Big Timber of a truck that was pulling a trailer without taillights. Dempster was the driver. The deputy noticed the muzzle of a hunting rifle sticking out near the floorboard, ran Dempster’s information and confirmed that Dempster was on federal probation. During search of the truck, law enforcement recovered three loaded firearms—two rifles and a semi-automatic pistol. Law enforcement further learned that the pistol and one of the rifles were owned by Dempster’s father and that Dempster took them with out permission.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin D. Hargrove prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Sweet Grass County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Probation Office.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.



Clair Johnson Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated January 11, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: 23-15