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Press Release

Missoula felon sentenced to prison for illegal possession of firearms

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

MISSOULA — A Missoula man with felony convictions was sentenced today to two years and six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally possessing firearms, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Heath Lynn Schmoeckel, 42, pleaded guilty in September 2023 to two counts of prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that in January 2022, law enforcement responded to a single vehicle crash and located Schmoeckel in a ditch near Interstate 90. Officers located a bandana containing a pistol nearby. Schmoeckel told officers he took the pistol from the crash and tried to dispose of it. The government further alleged that in August 2022, Montana probation officers responded to Schmoeckel’s workplace, examined his vehicle and saw an AR-15 rifle on the passenger seat. Schmoeckel had the keys to the vehicle in his possession. In both instances, Schmoeckel was on supervision for prior felony offenses. Schmoeckel was prohibited from possessing firearms because of two state convictions for felony drug crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Lowney prosecuted the case. The Montana Highway Patrol, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Missoula Police Department and Montana Probation and Parole conducted the investigation.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated January 18, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 24-20