Steven Neil Hopper, 29, of Billings was sentenced Thursday to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of firearms. The charge stemmed from a one-count indictment in April of this year. Hopper entered a guilty plea to the single count in June. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Watters issued the sentence.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the United States was prepared to prove that on June 5, 2016, the staff at a motel in Laurel, Montana, cleaned out Hopper's room and found two rifles, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia. Hopper was interviewed and admitted that he found the two firearms in his motel room. He handled them and wrapped them up. He had the only key to the motel room and everything in the room was his - except the firearms and drug paraphernalia. He could not explain how the firearms got into the motel room.
According to witnesses in the case, Hopper possessed two firearms when Hopper stayed at the Days Inn in Billings, days before he moved into the Laurel motel, and he possessed the same two firearms in his Laurel motel room. The firearms and ammunition taken into law enforcement custody, in this case, are a Ruger .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle, a Remington .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle, and 135 rounds of assorted .40 caliber, .38 caliber, and 12 gauge ammunition.
Hopper was previously convicted of felony Impersonating a Public Servant and felony Robbery in violation of Montana law in February 2016 in Yellowstone County.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is partnering with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to identify those responsible for significant violent crime in Montana. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a recently reinvigorated Department of Justice program that has proven to be successful in reducing violent crime. Today's sentencing is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Laurel Police Department, along with the Montana Probation and Parole Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette Stewart.