Wolf Point man accused in armed carjackings in Yellowstone, Cascade counties admits to crimes
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana
GREAT FALLS — A Wolf Point man who was arrested after leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase throughout Cascade County admitted today to trying to steal a vehicle from a man near Ulm and to brandishing a gun while carjacking a vehicle from a woman in Billings, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Santana Cruz Ledeau, 27, pleaded guilty to attempted carjacking and to using, carrying and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Ledeau faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the attempted carjacking charge and a mandatory minimum of seven years to life in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the charge of brandishing a firearm.
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. Sentencing was set for Oct. 26. Ledeau was detained pending further proceedings.
A plea agreement reached by the parties calls for Ledeau to plead guilty to two counts of assault on a peace officer in the Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County, following the resolution of the federal case. In addition, if the Court accepts the plea agreement at sentencing, the government will seek to dismiss additional charges of robbery affecting commerce, two counts of carjacking and one count of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence as charged in an indictment.
The government alleged in court documents that on Sept. 30, 2022, in Billings, a woman was delivering laboratory samples to a hospital clinic. As she arrived at the parking lot, a man dressed in a red hooded sweatshirt approached her as she attempted to leave her car. The man, later identified as Ledeau, demanded her keys and pointed a gun in her face. As she dug inside her purse for the key fob, Ledeau produced a can of pepper spray and sprayed her in the face. Ledeau then took her car, a Nissan, and fled. Hospital personnel who witnessed the incident from a distance treated the victim for her injuries. During an interview with law enforcement, the victim described the gun as “red with some silver.” The victim’s car was later recovered in Musselshell County. Fingerprints in the car matched those of Ledeau.
The government further alleged that on Oct. 17, 2022, Ledeau and a female companion were driving around Great Falls in a white truck that was later discovered to be stolen from North Dakota. Ledeau got into a fight outside a motel and fired a pistol into the air. He then fled the scene and was involved in a hit-and-run car accident. Great Falls police were unable to stop Ledeau, who drove out of town heading south on Interstate 15 toward Ulm. When he neared Ulm, Ledeau exited the interstate, drove up behind a Buick sedan and got out of the stolen truck. Ledeau approached a man driving the Buick and demanded the car, but the man refused. Ledeau produced a pistol and fired a round into the rear driver’s-side window. The window shattered, and the bullet traveled through the rear driver’s seat and into the trunk, where it was recovered. The driver of the Buick sped off, and Ledeau returned to the truck.
In addition, the government alleged that Ledeau returned to I-15 and traveled south to Cascade where he ran out of gas. Ledeau approached a second man, who agreed to give Ledeau and his female companion a ride to a gas station. However, law enforcement arrived, and Ledeau yelled at the second man to get out of the car. Ledeau then got into the driver’s seat and led officers on a high-speed chase throughout the county. Ledeau traveled south on I-15, exited at Wolf Creek and traveled north on Montana Highway 434. During the case, the female companion repeatedly called 911 because she was in fear for her well-being. Eventually, Ledeau turned east on Highway 200, lost control and crashed into a ditch near Simms. At the crash scene, officers saw Ledeau holding a pistol before tossing it to the ground. The gun had a red stock and dark colored slide and was determined to be a SCCY Industries, model CPX-2, 9mm caliber pistol.
Photo: U.S. Attorney’s Office
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica A. Betley and Jeffrey K. Starnes are prosecuting the case. The Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Cascade County Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, Billings Police Department, Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol 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 Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer
Updated May 30, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-176
Project Safe Neighborhoods