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Press Release

Federal judge convicts Wyoming man for role in commercial sex activity in Billings, making false statements to law enforcement

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

BILLINGS — A U.S. District Court judge on Feb. 20 convicted a Wyoming man for his role in arranging for commercial sex in Billings and then making false statements to federal investigators, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

After a one-day bench trial on Feb. 20, U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters found the defendant, Mark Jay Albrecht, 66, of Gillette, Wyoming, guilty of use of facility in interstate commerce in aid of racketeering and making a false statement as charged in a fourth superseding indictment. Albrecht faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on each crime.

The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court set sentencing for March 20 and continued Albrecht’s release pending further proceedings.

“Spinning a web of lies to federal agents about his efforts to engage in commercial sex activity has now made Albrecht a federal felon.  His desire and actions to have commercial sex contributed to the sex trafficking of a minor, for which the trafficker was previously held accountable by this office.  I applaud and thank our federal prosecutors, as well as the FBI, IRS, and Billings Police Department for their tenacity in holding Albrecht accountable for his deceit,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.

In court documents and at trial, the government alleged that on April 21, 2021, law enforcement responded to a report of possible commercial sex activity at the Quality Inn in Billings. Billings police officers knocked on the door of the suspect room and announced themselves. A woman, identified as Ashley Stella, of Reno, Nevada, Jane Doe 1, who was a minor at the time, and Albrecht emerged. Albrecht was seen buttoning up his shirt as he exited the room. Albrecht initially denied to police and FBI officers, who had responded to assist, that he was in the room for a sexual encounter and offered various stories about why he was there. Ultimately, Albrecht acknowledged going to the room to engage in commercial sex. Albrecht explained how he used a social media website to arrange for commercial sex and how he responded on Tryst using his cellphone. He showed law enforcement the cellphone messages setting up the meeting. Stella acknowledged in interviews that Albrecht was in the room for commercial sex, and that Jane Doe 1 traveled with her for the purpose of commercial sex. Following the events of April 21, 2021, law enforcement began a federal sex trafficking investigation.

As part of the sex trafficking investigation, Albrecht was issued a federal grand jury subpoena to testify about the events surrounding April 21, 2021. In anticipation of the grand jury appearance, Albrecht was invited to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for an interview in May 2021 to explain the grand jury process to him. FBI and IRS agents were present for that interview. Albrecht was informed several times that he was not a target of the investigation and that the only way he could get into trouble was to make false statements. Albrecht also was informed that making false statements to a federal agent was a crime. Despite these assurances, Albrecht repeatedly stated that he did not go to the Quality Inn for commercial sex but rather offered another story about why he was communicating with Stella. Albrecht never admitted he was soliciting commercial sex during his May 2021 interview, contrary to facts known by law enforcement. Stella was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for conviction of transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. The FBI, IRS and Billings Police Department conducted the investigation.



Clair J. Howard 

Public Affairs Officer


Updated February 22, 2024

Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-55