GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Wolf Point man who admitted to attempted carjacking and a firearms crime stemming from a violent crime spree that began with an armed carjacking in Yellowstone County and ended in Cascade County with another carjacking was sentenced today to 11 years and two months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Santana Cruz Ledeau, 27, pleaded guilty in May to attempted carjacking and to using, carrying and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. The court also ordered $500 restitution.
There is no parole in the federal system, however a defendant may be eligible for a reduced sentence not exceeding 15 percent of the overall sentence by earning credit for good behavior.
“Ledeau terrorized two communities during his armed carjacking rampage, causing schools and residents to shelter-in-place and putting people in fear of having their vehicles stolen at gunpoint. It is a miracle no one was killed or seriously injured. But Ledeau still inflicted severe trauma on the victims he randomly attacked, and he nearly ran over two deputies with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office as they were attempting to stop him,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said. “Ending Ledeau’s crime spree and holding him accountable would not have happened without the extraordinary dedication to public safety by local, state and federal law enforcement, many of whom jeopardized their own lives to bring Ledeau to justice. I am grateful to and proud of the Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Attorney’s Office, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, Billings Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their outstanding work on this case.”
The government alleged in court documents that on Sept. 30, 2022, in Billings, Ledeau accosted a woman as she tried to get out of her car in a hospital parking lot. Ledeau pointed a gun at her, demanded keys and sprayed pepper spray her in the face. He then carjacked the woman’s vehicle and fled. The woman described the gun as “red with some silver.” Law enforcement found the car a few days later in Musselshell County.
The government further alleged that a few weeks later, on Oct. 17, 2022, Ledeau and a female companion were driving around Great Falls in a white truck that was later discovered to be stolen from North Dakota. Ledeau got into a fight outside a motel and fired a pistol into the air. He fled the scene and was involved in a hit-and-run car accident. Great Falls police were unable to stop Ledeau, who drove south on Interstate 15 toward Ulm. When he neared Ulm, Ledeau exited the interstate, drove up behind a Buick sedan, got out of the truck and demanded the Buick from the man driving it. The driver refused to give up his car. Ledeau then pointed a pistol at the car and shot through the rear driver’s side window. The window shattered, and the bullet traveled into the trunk, where it was recovered. The driver sped away, and Ledeau took off down Interstate 15 in the stolen truck.
The government further alleged that Ledeau made it to Cascade where he ran out of gas. There, a man offered to take Ledeau to get gas, and Ledeau and his companion got into the man’s car. However, once in the car, Ledeau threatened the driver with a knife and demanded the vehicle. The driver jumped out of the car and noticed law enforcement beginning to arrive. Deputies attempted to stop Ledeau, but he drove the stolen car at the officers, who had to flee out of his path.
As deputies continued trying to stop him, Ledeau drove back onto Interstate 15 at a high rate of speed and traveled the wrong way on the interstate. Ledeau eventually exited the interstate and crashed near Simms. At the crash scene, officers found Ledeau in possession of a pistol that appeared to be the same gun he used in the Billings carjacking and a bottle of Southern Comfort whiskey. Ledeau was intoxicated and belligerent, and agents recovered numerous cartridges, ammunition and empty ammunition boxes from the truck. The gun had a red stock and dark colored slide and was determined to be a 9mm pistol.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica A. Betley and Jeffrey K. Starnes prosecuted the case. The Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Attorney’s Office, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Musselshell County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, Billings Police Department and ATF 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.