United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that an Eagle Butte, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person and Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number.
Neil Blue Coat, age 35, was indicted on August 11, 2020. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on September 14, 2020, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that on July 14, 2017, and September 26, 2019, Blue Coat, then being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and knowing he was an unlawful user of a controlled substance, did knowingly possess three firearms in Eagle Butte. Further, the manufacturer’s serial number had been removed, altered, or obliterated from one of the firearms.
The charges are merely accusations and Blue Coat is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The investigation is being conducted by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron J. Cook is prosecuting the case.
Blue Coat was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.