GREAT FALLS — A man and a woman who had been excluded from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation admitted charges yesterday after they were accused of stealing from a store and assaulting a store employee, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.
Dustin Alan Robbins, 38, and Nicole Lynn Hicks, 37, both transients, pleaded guilty to intimidation. The defendants face a maximum of 10 years in prison a $50,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court set sentencing for Jan. 24, 2024 and ordered Robbins and Hicks detained pending further proceedings.
In court documents, the government alleged that on Nov. 1, 2021, Hicks and Robbins, who are non-Indian, entered the Red Paint Creek Trading Post in Lodge Pole, on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. At the time, both were excluded from the reservation by the Fort Belknap community for an incident that occurred near Hays in September 2021. Hicks took a 30-pack of beer without paying and left the store. After realizing Hicks had not paid for the beer, a store employee, who is an Indian person, followed Hicks outside. Hicks put the beer on the ground as she was going through a fence. The store employee went to retrieve the beer and picked it up.
The government further alleged that Robbins ran toward the employee, assaulted her and threatened to burn down the store. After learning of the theft, the store manager, also an Indian person, went outside and saw Robbins assaulting the store employee. The store manager yelled that she had called the police and picked up a large rock to defend the employee. Robbins stopped the assault and ran away with Hicks. As they were leaving, Hicks kept screaming and Robbins yelled threats, including that he was with the mafia and was going to burn down the store. Tribal police located Robbins and Hicks at a home on the reservation, despite their prior exclusion, and removed them from the reservation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda L. Myers is prosecuting the case. The FBI and Fort Belknap Law Enforcement conducted the investigation.
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer