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Press Release

Firearms violations sends Miles City man to prison

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

BILLINGS—A Miles City man who admitted possessing stolen and shortened firearms in Billings and Miles City was sentenced today to 45 months in prison and three years of supervised release, said U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Chet Joseph Leatherberry, 35, pleaded guilty in February to possession of stolen firearms and to possession of unregistered firearms.

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

The prosecution said Leatherberry violated firearms laws through a series of offenses. In December 2016, Leatherberry possessed a stolen .380-caliber pistol in Billings. Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputies found the pistol next to Leatherberry’s bed while serving a search warrant on his residence for stolen goods. During the search, officers also found stolen electronic equipment, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Leatherberry told officer that he took the pistol from two people who wanted to sell it, had a few potential buyers and thought it was stolen. The pistol’s lawful owner lives in Bozeman and didn’t realize the gun was gone until he was called by law enforcement.

Leatherberry also admitted that he possessed three modified or shortened firearms in Miles City in July 2018 and additionally possessed two stolen pistols a month later. When arrested on an outstanding warrant in August 2018, Leatherberry told Miles City law enforcement that he had two handguns in a backpack at the time of his arrest. The investigation found that both of the handguns were loaded and had been stolen.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette Stewart prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Billings Police Department, Miles City Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.






Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer

Updated June 27, 2019

Project Safe Neighborhoods