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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
Contact: Clair Johnson Howard
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 20, 2023

Billings Felon Admits to Firearms Crimes After Illegally Possessing Stolen Gun

BILLINGS — A Billings man who was on state supervision for felony convictions admitted today to firearms crimes after law enforcement found him in possession of a stolen gun, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Joseph Lee Doney, 41, pleaded guilty to prohibited person in possession of a firearm and to possession of a stolen firearm. Doney faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

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. Doney was detained pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that on Oct. 13, 2022, Billings Police Department officers arrested Doney on a probation violation warrant after he was spotted in a stolen truck the previous night. Doney had absconded from state supervision in January 2022. In a search of a trailer where Doney had been living, officers seized a stolen Ruger .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol and ammunition. Doney admitted to an officer that there was ammunition in his trailer and that he was in the stolen truck the night before. In a recorded jail call after his arrest, Doney admitted he knew the gun was stolen. The owner of the stolen truck and pistol confirmed that the gun was in his truck, which was parked outside of his home, when both were stolen.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Harper Suek is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Billings 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 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.


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