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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, October 18, 2023

Laurel Felon Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Prison for Illegally Possessing 34 Firearms in His Residence

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Laurel man who admitted he illegally possessed firearms and ammunition after law enforcement found 34 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his residence was sentenced today to five years and eight months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Nicholas Steven Capella, 39, pleaded guilty in June to prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition as charged in an indictment.

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

The government alleged in court documents that in August 2022, members of the Billings Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit were surveilling a residence in Laurel when Capella and another person left the house and got into a vehicle that was parked outside. Capella had a pistol holstered on his hip. Officers converged on the vehicle and placed Capella and the other person in custody. A search warrant was executed at the residence, and Capella agreed to open a gun safe, which contained a large cache of firearms, including assault style rifles with high-capacity magazines. Law enforcement seized approximately 34 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Capella was prohibited from possessing firearms because of felony convictions in Washington.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin M. Rubich prosecuted the case. The Billings Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 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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