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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Billings Felon Admits Illegal Possession of Firearms; Numerous Guns Found in Residence

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Billings felon who was on state probation admitted today to illegally possessing numerous firearms, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Erik Joseph Perlberg, 48, pleaded guilty to prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Perlberg 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. Perlberg was released pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that on April 4, Perlberg attempted to collect a firearm at Scheels in Billings. When a store employee asked why a family member had to complete an ATF form, Perlberg replied that he was prohibited because he was on felony probation. The firearm was not provided to Perlberg. An investigation led to an interview in which Perlberg acknowledged to his probation officer that he could not possess a firearm but had them at his residence and that the keys to the gun safe were at his place of employment. When law enforcement went to his employer for the keys, officers were shown a firearm that Perlberg possessed in a toolbox. During a search of Perlberg’s residence, law enforcement found numerous firearms and determined that 18 of the guns had been manufactured outside the state of Montana. Perlberg was convicted of felony DUI in Yellowstone County in 2021 and was prohibited from possessing firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus is prosecuting the case. ATF 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 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.


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