Jury convicts Billings man in armed casino robbery
BILLINGS—A jury convicted Billings resident Antonio Francisco Gutierrez on January 16 in the 2018 armed robbery of Dotty’s Casino following a three-day trial, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said today.
The jury found Gutierrez, 36, guilty of three counts, including robbery affecting commerce, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Gutierrez is detained.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters presided at the trial. Watters set sentencing for May 16.
Gutierrez faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the robbery count and a consecutive mandatory seven years to life, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release on the brandishing count.
Prosecutors alleged that on Feb. 5, 2018, Gutierrez asked co-defendant, Christopher Esrey, to drive him to Dotty’s Casino, on Montana Sapphire Drive, near Shiloh Road, to meet a friend to “get some money.” The pair arrived at the casino at about 11:43 p.m. Esrey waited in the car while Gutierrez entered the casino wearing a hood, hat and facemask. He tried to open the inner door but it was locked. Gutierrez pushed a buzzer to summon a casino attendant, who motioned for him to remove his clothing before she unlocked the inner door.
Gutierrez mimed as if he was going to remove the items and the attendant opened the door and began walking back to her station, prosecutors alleged. When the attendant unlocked the door, Gutierrez stopped removing his face coverings, took a pistol from his coat pocket, cocked it and pointed it at the attendant’s back. The attendant froze, raised her hands and complied with Gutierrez’s instruction to empty the till.
Gutierrez got back into the idling vehicle, and the attendant reported the robbery to the Billings Police Department. Gutierrez and Esrey eventually went to gamble at another casino, where they were detained by officers.
Esrey pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and is to be sentenced on Feb. 7.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin Rubich and Tom Godfrey prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Billings Police Department.
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.