DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Dakota

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Ronald A. Parsons, Jr.
, United States Attorney
Contact: Ace Crawford

Mission Man Sentenced for Felon in Possession of a Firearm

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Mission, South Dakota, man convicted of Felon in Possession of a Firearm was sentenced on February 24, 2020, by Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange, U.S. District Court.

Luke Joseph Burning Breast, age 36, was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison, followed by 2 years of supervised release, forfeiture of a firearm, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $100.

Burning Breast was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 14, 2019. He was convicted of the charge on December 10, 2019, following a two-day jury trial in Pierre, South Dakota.

The conviction stemmed from Burning Breast being previously convicted of Drug User in Possession of a Firearm, a felony, in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota in 2008. On April 9, 2019, in Rosebud, South Dakota, Burning Breast was at a residence when a heated altercation ensued between him and his domestic partner. Law enforcement was contacted and responded to the residence. At the scene, officers overheard Burning Breast say his rifle was placed outside during the argument. Upon questioning, Burning Breast affirmed the location of the rifle and acknowledged his prior felony conviction, but erroneously asserted the conviction was expunged. Officers found the rifle outside the residence as Burning Breast described. Burning Breast’s felony conviction had not been expunged and remained valid.

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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see:

This case was investigated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Elmore prosecuted the case.

Burning Breast was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.


St. Paul Field Division