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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Jesse Laslovich, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 8, 2023

Laurel Man Admits Illegally Possessing Firearms After Law Enforcement Finds 35 Guns in His Residence

BILLINGS — A Laurel man today admitted he illegally possessed firearms and ammunition after law enforcement found 35 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his residence, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Nicholas Steven Capella, 38, pleaded guilty to prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition as charged in an indictment. Capella 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. Capella was detained pending further proceedings.

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, placed Capella and the other person in custody and advised them of their rights. A search warrant was executed at the residence. During the search, Capella agreed to open a gun safe, which contained a large cache of firearms. Law enforcement seized 35 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Capella was prohibited of possessing firearms because of felony convictions in Washington.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin M. Rubich is prosecuting 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 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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