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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 10, 2023

Billings Man Sentenced to More than 11 Years in Prison for Armed Robbery in Carjacking

BILLINGS — A Billings man convicted of robbery and gun crimes for stealing a car at gunpoint in Billings and leading law enforcement on a chase into Big Horn County was sentenced today to 11 years and nine months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Joseph Wayne Cantrell, 30, pleaded guilty in April to Hobbs Act Robbery and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

The government alleged in court documents that on Jan. 8, 2022, the victim was sitting in his 2017 Subaru Outback in a parking lot in Billings when Cantrell approached his driver’s side door. The victim told Cantrell to go away. Cantrell then pulled out a handgun, and the victim immediately surrendered his car to Cantrell, who drove off in it. Less than an hour later, law enforcement found Cantrell with the car. Cantrell fled and led law enforcement on a chase from Yellowstone County into Big Horn County. Law enforcement deployed spike strips to stop Cantrell and could hear gunshots coming from the car. The car wrecked a short time later and Cantrell fled with the firearm into a field. The car’s passenger side window had been shot out. After a standoff lasting several hours, Cantrell threw the firearm away and was arrested. The firearm was a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas K. Godfrey and Lori Harper Suek prosecuted the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Billings Police Department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Probation and Parole, 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.

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