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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 21, 2023
Jesse Laslovich
, United States Attorney

Missoula Man Sentenced to Prison for Firearms Crimes

MISSOULA  Mont. — A Missoula man convicted by a federal judge of multiple firearms crimes was sentenced today to 21 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

After a two-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen found Michael Blake DeFrance, 30, guilty on May 1 on all counts charged in a second superseding indictment, including prohibited person in possession of a firearm and three counts of false statement during a firearms transaction. The court presided at sentencing and ordered DeFrance to self-report to the Bureau of Prisons.

“DeFrance was previously convicted of partner or family member assault after he assaulted his then partner, Jermain Charlo. Because of this, he lost his right to possess firearms and yet he made false statements on firearms forms so he could illegally obtain guns at a pawn shop. Keeping guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited from having them is critical to the safety of others, particularly women, domestic partners, and families, and I applaud and thank Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer S. Clark and Timothy J. Racicot and the FBI and Missoula Police Department for their hard work in holding DeFrance accountable for these crimes,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.

In court documents and at trial, the government alleged that on June 27, 2018, a Missoula Police Department detective located a .357-caliber revolver and a box of .357-caliber ammunition in the console of DeFrance’s truck. Two .22-caliber rifles were located under the back seat. On Oct. 2, 2018, law enforcement executed a search warrant on DeFrance’s residence and located a .357-caliber revolver on a desk by the front door. The detective recognized this gun as the revolver DeFrance had in his truck in June. DeFrance also had two rifles in his bedroom. When asked if he knew he was not supposed to have guns, DeFrance replied, “I was never clear on that.”

The government further alleged that in May 2013, DeFrance was sentenced for partner or family member assault on Jermain Charlo in Sanders County. DeFrance signed a waiver of rights form in which he acknowledged his rights, which included – on a list of possible consequences of pleading guilty – the loss of firearms rights. The same form contained space for DeFrance to explain the basis for his guilty plea, and his form stated, “On 4-14-2013, in Sanders County I caused bodily injury to my girlfriend.”

In addition, the government alleged that on three occasions in 2018, DeFrance completed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives forms at a Missoula pawn shop in which he represented that he had not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Prior to and after the assault in 2013, Charlo stayed with DeFrance in a camper on property belonging to the DeFrance family. Charlo and DeFrance were in an intimate relationship.

The government alleged DeFrance was prohibited from possessing firearms because he had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and that he knowingly made false written statements in 2018 at a Missoula pawn shop in connection with his acquisition and attempted acquisition of three firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer S. Clark and Timothy J. Racicot prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI’s Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force and Missoula Police Department.

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 of Justice 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.


Denver Field Division