Two women admit armed robbery of Billings Heights casino; discarding loaded firearms on elementary school property
BILLINGS — Two women accused of stealing liquor at gunpoint from a Billings Heights casino, firing a warning shot while fleeing and ultimately discarding two loaded firearms on elementary school property admitted robbery and firearms charges, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Taliah Jeneane Ramirez, 22, of Billings, pleaded guilty today to a superseding information charging her with robbery affecting commerce, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in a school zone. Co-defendant Makyla Shayd Fetter, 28, of Harlem, pleaded guilty on July 28 to the same charges.
Ramirez and Fetter each face a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the robbery crime and a mandatory minimum seven years to life in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release on the crime of possessing a firearm in a crime of violence. In addition, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison, not to be run concurrent to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, on the crime of possession of a firearm in a school zone.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided. A sentencing date will be set before U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The government alleged in court documents that on March 20, Fetter and Ramirez entered the Magic Diamond Casino in the Billings Heights, and Fetter removed five bottles of Southern Comfort liquor from a shelf. When an employee approached Fetter and asked to see her identification, Fetter pulled out a pistol, pointed it at the clerk and said, “here’s your (obscenity) ID.” Meanwhile, another employee had moved to block the doors. Fetter then pointed the firearm at the second employee, who moved away from the doors. The defendants got into a Buick, and before leaving, Ramirez took out another pistol and fired a round into the air. In a statement later, Ramirez said that Fetter told her to fire a round to prevent people from following them or identifying the vehicle.
The government further alleged that the Billings Police Department responded to the robbery and attempted a traffic stop of the Buick. The car fled at more than 80 mph, and the officer stopped a pursuit after a few blocks to avoid risks to civilians. The vehicle crashed a short time later after going through a fence at Ponderosa Elementary School. Law enforcement officers found the car abandoned with multiple bottles of Southern Comfort on the front passenger floorboard. During a search of the area, officers found Fetter, who was attempting to hide in grass next to a fence. Ramirez had fled. Officers searched Fetter but did not find a firearm. However, officers found a loaded gun that had been dropped in the middle of the playground. The next day, the school principal contacted the Billings Police Department about a second firearm that had been found on the school grounds by a student, who summoned a faculty member. A police officer determined that the second firearm also was loaded. Both firearms were determined to have been stolen.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin M. Rubich is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Billings Police Department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and 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.