April 17, 2024

BILLINGS — A Billings man today admitted to a firearms crime after law enforcement located a silencer along with 14 firearms in his residence while conducting an investigation, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

The defendant, William Henry Alberts, 66, pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm. Alberts faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing was set for Aug. 14. Alberts was released pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that on April 25, 2023, Alberts and another man were on a motorcycle when they were pulled over for a traffic stop. The other person had abandoned a stolen four-wheeler and was taken into custody. Alberts was allowed to walk back to his property. In the meantime, law enforcement secured Alberts’ property, believing that federal fugitive was living on the property. When Alberts arrived home, he gave law enforcement permission to search his home for the fugitive. During the search, law enforcement saw a shotgun in plain view. Alberts admitted that he was convicted of a drug felony in 1992 and admitted that there were at least 10 firearms in the house. Officers executed a search warrant and found 14 firearms, methamphetamine and assorted ammunition. Officers also located a black suppressor/silencer. The silencer was not registered as required by law, and so the possession violated federal firearms laws.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Billings Police Department conducted the investigation. 

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.