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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 28, 2020

Informational: Federal Court arraignments

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that the following persons were arraigned or appeared this week before U.S. Magistrate judges on indictments handed down by the Grand Jury or on criminal complaints. The charging documents are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty:

Appearing in Billings before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan and pleading not guilty on Feb. 27 was:

Augustus Christopher Wolfback, 18, of Lodge Grass, on charges of assault by strangulation of a dating partner. If convicted of the most serious crime, Wolfback faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Wolfback was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 20-22.

Samuel Richard Bonko, 34, of Garryowen, on charges of failure to register as a sexual offender. If convicted of the most serious crime, Bonko faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Bonko was detained pending further proceedings. The U.S. Marshals Service investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 19-79.

Jordan Lee Larue, 26, of Billings, on charges of prohibited person in possession of a firearm and receipt of a firearm by person under indictment for felony. If convicted of the most serious crime, Larue faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Larue was detained pending further proceedings. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 19-147.

This case is part of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative launched in the fall of 2019 to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Through Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana is working to enhance coordination of its federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. In addition, Project Guardian supports information sharing and taking action when individuals are denied a firearm purchase by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for mental health reasons or because they are a prohibited person.

Appearing on Feb. 25 were:

Brandon Thomas Houdashelt, 32, of Clyde Park, on charges of distribution of controlled substances causing death and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. If convicted of the most serious crime, Houdashelt faces 20 years to life in prison, a $1 million fine and three years of supervised release. Houdashelt was detained pending further proceedings. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 20-188.

James Robert Patterson, 21, of Billings, on charges of coercion and enticement. If convicted of the most serious crime, Patterson faces a minimum mandatory 10 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Patterson was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 20-20.

Christopher Cleveland, 40, of Billings, on charges of prohibited person in possession of a firearm and possession of an unregistered firearm. If convicted of the most serious crime, Cleveland faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Cleveland was detained pending further proceedings. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 20-15.

This case is part of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative launched in the fall of 2019 to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Through Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana is working to enhance coordination of its federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. In addition, Project Guardian supports information sharing and taking action when individuals are denied a firearm purchase by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for mental health reasons or because they are a prohibited person.

Appearing on criminal complaints on Feb. 25 were:

Maliyah Jae Chavez, 19, of Billings, on charges of possession of stolen firearms. If convicted of the most serious crime, Chavez faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Chavez was detained pending further proceedings. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case. Pacer case reference. 20-18.

Rodrigo Gomez, 18, of Billings, on charges of possession of stolen firearms. If convicted of the most serious crime, Gomez faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Gomez was detained pending further proceedings. Pacer case reference. 20-19.

These cases are part of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative launched in the fall of 2019 to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Through Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana is working to enhance coordination of its federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. In addition, Project Guardian supports information sharing and taking action when individuals are denied a firearm purchase by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for mental health reasons or because they are a prohibited person.

If any of the above cases are of interest to your media organization and the community it serves, we encourage you to monitor the progress of the case regularly through the U.S. District Court calendar and the PACER system.

To establish a PACER account, which will allow you to review documents filed in the case, please go to, http://www.pacer.gov/register.html. To access the district court’s calendar, please go to https://ecf.mtd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/PublicCalendar.pl.

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Component(s): 
Contact: 
Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer 406-247-4623
Updated February 28, 2020