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Press Release

Browning man sentenced to 15 months in prison for assaulting corrections officer at Bureau of Indian Affairs jail

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


GREAT FALLS  — A Browning man who admitted to trying to put a federal corrections officer in a chokehold while incarcerated at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ jail on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation was sentenced today to 15 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Joseph Ernest Potts, 33, pleaded guilty in June to assault on a federal officer.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

The government alleged in court documents that on Aug. 15, 2021, Potts was an inmate at the Browning jail, which is a federal correctional facility operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A corrections officer, identified as John Doe, was supervising male inmates as they returned to their cells from the dayroom. Doe saw Potts pacing back and forth between his cell and a cell across the hallway. As Doe began closing Potts’ cell, Potts grabbed Doe around the neck and began struggling with him, attempting to put the officer in a chokehold. Other inmates pulled Potts off the officer. The officer reported pain and discomfort for more than a week after the assault.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kalah A. Paisley prosecuted the case. The FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services conducted the investigation.




Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated November 16, 2023

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 23-431