Fairview felon sentenced to prison for illegal possession of 47 firearms

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BILLINGS — A Fairview man who was convicted by a jury of being a felon in possession of firearms after law enforcement found 47 firearms at his residence was sentenced on Dec. 15 to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said today.

A jury found Lonnie Burdette Porter, 60, guilty of felon in possession of firearms in July after a two-day trial.

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

Court documents filed by the government alleged that Porter was convicted of a felony in 2019 in Montana state district court in Richland County, was placed on probation and was prohibited from possessing firearms. In September 2020, Porter visited the Fairview Police Department to report that several guns had been stolen from the “vault” in his home while he was in Hawaii. Porter provided a list of 55 guns that had been in his home prior to him leaving for Hawaii. At that time, Porter acknowledged he was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his probation. Later that day, two probation officers and a police officer searched Porter’s home. When officers approached Porter, he mentioned it was poor timing for a home visit because he had firearms in his possession. A hole in the floor under Porter’s dryer led law enforcement to his “vault,” which contained a significant number of firearms. Additional guns were located elsewhere in the house, including a loaded gun in the kitchen, and later recovered. In total, Porter possessed 47 firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin M. Rubich and Thomas K. Godfrey prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fairview Police Department.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.

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