Billings man sentenced for illegal firearms possession
BILLNGS—U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme announced today that Lance X. Ratcliff, a Billings resident, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 months in prison and three years supervised release for illegally possessing a shotgun that was found between the mattress and box spring of his bed.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters presided at sentencing.
Ratcliff pleaded guilty in June to being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
The investigation began in March 2018 after Ratcliff provided a urine sample to the Montana Department of Corrections, Billings Probation and Parole Office as part of conditions of supervision in a Wyoming case. Ratcliff had been convicted of felony possession of cocaine in Wyoming in 2017. The drug test result was positive, which led to a search of Ratcliff’s residence.
During the search, law enforcement officers recovered a 12 gauge pump action shotgun, which was loaded with five rounds of ammunition, from between the mattress and box spring of the bed in Ratcliff’s bedroom. Officers also recovered a box of 12 gauge shotgun ammunition from a closet. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the shotgun had been stolen from a Billings resident in April 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Godfrey prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the ATF.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals.
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer