GREAT FALLS — A Box Elder man who admitted to intimidating and threatening a witness who would testify against him regarding his involvement in a kidnapping and attempted murder on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation was sentenced today to 78 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Leon Houle, 37, pleaded guilty in January to witness tampering as charged in a superseding information.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.
The government alleged in court documents that on March 17, 2019, by Houle’s command, Dakota Houle, Houle’s brother, shot the victim, identified as John Doe, in the back as the victim attempted to run from his would-be killers. The Houle brothers, along with two women, lured John Doe to a residence where they planned to rob him of methamphetamine and kill him. The Houle brothers beat John Doe with weapons when he arrived, robbed him at gunpoint, forced him to remove his shoes and told him they were taking him to the mountains to kill him. The brothers forced John Doe into his own car as pleaded for his life. Leon Houle drove the vehicle, with John Doe in the front passenger seat and Dakota Houle directly behind the victim in the rear passenger seat with a shotgun in his hand. When the vehicle slowed near a cattle guard, John Doe jumped out of the moving car and tried to run through the snow. The government further alleged that Leon Houle told Dakota Houle to “Shoot him!” Dakota Houle shot the victim in the back of the head. Believing John Doe was dead, the Houle brothers and others fled on foot. John Doe survived and suffered severe and permanent injuries. Leon Houle continues to deny involvement in the kidnapping and shooting of John Doe.
Leon Houle was indicted on five felony charges related to the shooting. While in custody on the charges, Leon Houle made statements to another person, identified as John Doe II, about the crimes and then contacted various individuals in an attempt to influence or prevent John Doe II’s testimony. The government further alleged that after pleading guilty in January, Leon Houle continued to threaten and harass witnesses by making threatening gestures, including throat-cutting and trigger-pulling gestures, to the witnesses.
Dakota Houle previously was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for conviction on assault with intent to commit murder and other crimes in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared C. Cobell and Lori Harper Suek prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement Services.