BILLINGS – A Billings man who admitted trafficking and firearms crimes after a fake methamphetamine drug deal led to a shootout was sentenced today to seven years and 10 months in prison and to five years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.
Gregg Allen Johnson, 42, pleaded guilty on Oct. 29, 2020 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Johnson was detained.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that on June 3, 2019, Johnson introduced co-defendant, James Higgins, to another individual in the parking lot of a Walmart in Billings so Higgins could buy a large quantity of meth from the individual. Higgins paid the individual $3,000 and received a package wrapped in black plastic that the individual said was meth. The individual, however, had provided Higgins with a brick of rock salt.
When Higgins realized he had been cheated, he, a friend and Johnson went to the individual’s residence to recover his money. Higgins, Johnson and the friend all were armed. No one answered when they pounded on the door. Shortly after the friend began to enter through a rear door, shooting started. Video from security cameras at the residence showed the friend firing his pistol into the home. Johnson later admitted firing his weapon and numerous shell casing found matched the caliber of the firearm he was carrying. There was no evidence that Higgins brandished or fired his firearm. Higgins has pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Rubich prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the USDOJ’s initiative to reduce violent crime. Through these initiatives, 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.