Billings Felon Sentenced to More than Three Years in Prison for Illegal Possession of Firearm

BILLINGS — A Billings woman who had absconded state parole and was arrested selling fentanyl from a Billings motel, was sentenced today to three years and five months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for illegal possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Deana Louann Thomas, 42, pleaded guilty in June to prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

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

The government alleged in court documents that in December 2022, law enforcement received information that Thomas was selling fentanyl with a man from a motel room in Billings. Thomas had absconded parole from the Montana Department of Corrections. Officers knocked on Thomas’ motel room door and arrested her on a warrant. During a search of the room, law enforcement located a .38-caliber revolver under one of the beds and two rounds of .38-caliber ammunition on a nightstand. Thomas admitted that the firearm was given to her for protection. Thomas was convicted in 2019 of felony escape in Yellowstone County and was prohibited from possessing firearms.

The United States Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Montana Probation and Parole and U.S. Marshals Service 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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