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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Montana
For Immediate Release
Jesse Laslovich , United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-mt/
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Illegal Possession of Gun Sends Billings Felon to Prison for 30 Months

BILLINGS, Mont.  — A Billings felon who was on probation when officers found him wearing a bandana over his face and a carrying semi-automatic rifle wrapped in a blanket as he walked down a residential street was sentenced today to 30 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Fermin Joseph Vasquez, 39, pleaded guilty in May to prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

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

The government alleged in court documents that on April 27, 2021 in Billings, a 911 caller spotted Vasquez walking down a residential street with his entire face concealed by a bandana with eyeholes cut out, wearing a black jumpsuit and carrying what appeared to be a shotgun or rifle wrapped in a blanket. When he saw officers approach, Vasquez began doing lunges with the gun over his shoulders. Officers suspected Vasquez was under the influence of drugs. Officers disarmed and handcuffed Vasquez. Vasquez admitted he was a felon and on probation. The gun was a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle. Vasquez had four prior felony convictions and was on supervision at the time he possessed the firearm.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie R. Patten prosecuted the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Billings Police Department 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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