BILLINGS — A Billings man with a felony record was sentenced today to four years in prison and three years of supervised release after law enforcement officers found a firearm in a running washing machine at his residence, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Sean Craig Rayfield, 29, pleaded guilty in January to being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. Rayfield was detained.
In court records filed in the case the prosecution said that on July 5, 2019, Billings Police officers responded to a disturbance call at Rayfield’s residence. Witnesses said Rayfield was engaged in a fight with individuals at a party and that he was seen possessing a firearm. Days later, law enforcement searched Rayfield’s residence. During a search of the laundry room, officers found a firearm in a running washing machine. The firearm was a semi-automatic pistol with an attached laser sight. Rayfield was taken into custody. A co-defendant in the case told officers that Rayfield had purchased the firearm a couple of months earlier. Rayfield was prohibited from possession of firearms and ammunition because of a prior felony conviction in California.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno Baucus prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This case is part of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative launched in the fall of 2019 to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Through Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana is working to enhance coordination of its federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. In addition, Project Guardian supports information sharing and taking action when individuals are denied a firearm purchase by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for mental health reasons or because they are a prohibited person.