Billings man gets 10 years for armed robbery of Heights bank

August 23, 2017 GMT

A federal judge sentenced a Billings man to 10 years in prison on Wednesday for the 2016 armed robbery of the Valley Federal Credit Union in the Billings Heights.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters also ordered the defendant, David Lee Brown Jr., 40, to pay $2,812 restitution to the credit union.

Brown pleaded guilty in April to bank robbery and to brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. There was no plea agreement.

The robbery occurred on Sept. 7 at the Valley Federal Credit Union, 1445 Main St.

Prosecutor Colin Rubich said Brown and his wife picked up their daughter from school and went to the credit union after having been there earlier. Brown then covered his face with a camouflaged balaclava, armed himself with a semi-automatic gun and entered the business.

Brown pointed the gun at a teller and ordered her to fill an empty Doritos bag with money, Rubich said. The teller complied and included bait bills, which have serial numbers that are tracked by the credit union. Brown fled.

The investigation led to Brown, who confessed. He told officers he tossed the money off the porch behind his house, but the money was never found.

Rubich recommended a 10-year sentence calling Brown’s conduct shocking and dangerous for the community and the teller. “This is a nightmare scenario,” he said.

Being a meth addict did not excuse Brown’s conduct, Rubich said. Brown also had a criminal record that included burglary convictions, he said.

Assistant Federal Defender Mark Werner recommended an eight-year sentence saying Brown was remorseful, a meth addict and determined to rehabilitate himself while in prison.

In imposing a 10-year sentence, Watters said she considered Brown’s conduct, his criminal records and his meth addiction. She also noted Brown had an “extremely chaotic and dysfunctional” childhood, was on the street at age 10 and had been physically and sexually abused by adults as a child.

Watters imposed three years for the robbery and a mandatory consecutive seven years for the firearms count.