MISSOULA – A Butte man accused of robbing three business at gun point in three different Montana cities in February admitted charges today, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Thomas Scott Cockrill, 49, pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery affecting commerce and to brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Cockrill faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the robbery crime and a mandatory minimum seven years to life in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release on the firearm crime.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing was set for Nov. 10 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. Cockrill was detained pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that on Feb. 9, Cockrill robbed Blackjack Pizza in Missoula and brandished a handgun at an employee. Later that same evening, Cockrill held up at gun point an employee of the La Quinta Inn in Helena. Four days later, on Feb. 13, Cockrill robbed the Elevated Dispensary in Butte and brandished a handgun at an employee. Each business lost several hundred dollars in the robberies. When interviewed by law enforcement, Cockrill admitted he owned three firearms and that he robbed the three businesses.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara J. Elliott is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI’s Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force, Helena Police Department, Missoula Police Department, Butte Silverbow Law Enforcement and Montana Probation and Parole.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. Through PSN, 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.