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A Billings man with a lengthy state record of felony drug convictions denied new federal drug and firearms charges on Monday.

Christian Joseph Nava, 31, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a stolen firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Prosecutor Thomas Godfrey alleged in the indictment that on Dec. 7, 2016, in Billings, Nava possessed meth for distribution and had a stolen .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He also was prohibited from having firearms because of his felony record.

On Dec. 7, 2016, officers with the Montana Violent Offender Task Force arrested Nava, who was hiding under a bed box spring in a residence on the 2000 block of Second Avenue South, on a parole violation. He was unarmed at the time of his arrest. However, a stolen gun was recovered in the residence, a U.S. Marshals Service official said at the time.

A state district judge sentenced Nava in 2011 to more than 17 years in prison, with 10 years to be spent at Montana State Prison for conviction of being a persistent felony offender for felony drug offenses.

The judge also sentenced Nava to a consecutive five years for a second felony drug possession conviction and an additional two and a half years for violating parole conditions in a 2005 criminal endangerment case.

If convicted of the federal drug charge, Nava faces a minimum mandatory five years to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The maximum penalty for conviction on the firearms counts is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan ordered Nava to remain in custody. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Susan Watters.



Federal Court, Yellowtone County Reporter

Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.