Federal jury convicts Washington man of meth and fentanyl trafficking in Hill County, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation
MISSOULA — A Missoula man who admitted to illegally possessing firearms after law enforcement recovered a high-capacity AR-15 rifle and ammunition from his vehicle and nine other firearms and a pipe bomb from his residence was sentenced today to 46 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Paul Joseph Richter, 58, pleaded guilty in February to prohibited person in possession of firearms and ammunition.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided.
In court documents, the government alleged that in November 2021, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Missoula received an anonymous tip that Richter was a felon in possession of firearms. Richter had a federal felony conviction in Montana for felon in possession of a firearm. Agents saw Richter carry what appeared to be a rifle into his residence and then later leave and drive to the Veteran’s Administration clinic. While Richter was in the clinic, agents looked in the windows of Richter’s vehicle and saw an AR-type rifle on the front passenger floorboard. Agents detained Richter when he left the clinic. Richter told agents he had eight guns and approximately 5,000 rounds of ammunition at his residence. Richter also said he had recently completed federal supervision and didn’t believe in the idea his firearm rights should be taken away. He told agents that he thought he would never “get called on it again. Any normal person would be done but not me.”
Agents executed search warrants on Richter’s residence and vehicle and recovered an AR-15 rifle in close proximity to three magazines that were capable of holding more than 15 rounds for the gun, 25 rounds of .223 ammunition and other ammunition from the vehicle. From Richter’s residence, agents recovered nine firearms, assorted ammunition, a suspected PVC pipe bomb and a suspected smoke grenade.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer S. Clark prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer