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Justice News

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Joseph Michael Velk Sentenced In U.S. District Court

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on August 27, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, JOSEPH MICHAEL VELK, a 24-year-old resident of Havre, was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 8 months

Special Assessment: $100

Forfeiture: rifle

Supervised Release: 3 years

VELK was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to being a felon-in-possession of a firearm and ammunition.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica A. Betley, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On January 14, 2011, VELK was sentenced for felony burglary and felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs in the Twelfth Judicial District Court in Hill County and therefore prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

On August 16, 2011, a Hill County Deputy was on patrol in an area of the county which had experienced recent break-ins. Around 3:39 a.m., the deputy observed a pickup in the same area. The deputy stopped the pickup for a traffic violation. The deputy identified the driver of the truck as VELK. The deputy also could see empty alcohol containers, a full Bud Light can, a large spotlight, and a dead rabbit in the truck. He also saw a rifle tucked between the driver's seat and driver's side door.

Later that same morning, law enforcement searched the pickup. During the search, the officers located a Henry Repeating Arms .22 Rifle, as well as an open box of Remington .22 shells. The officers found the shells by the clutch between the driver's seat and passenger seat. The rifle was still between the driver's seat and driver's side door.

When questioned, VELK admitted to possessing the Henry Repeating Arms .22 long rifle Lever Action and a box of Remington .22 shells.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that VELK will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, VELK does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Havre Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Updated January 14, 2015