A Billings man who threatened a black man and chased him down a street was sentenced Thursday for committing a felony hate crime.
Jason Lee Paullin, 35, appeared before Judge Susan Watters after previously pleading guilty to malicious intimidation or harassment related to civil or human rights. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
The charge stemmed from an incident on March 19 when Paullin threatened the victim with his dog, chased him and yelled racial slurs.
Deputy County Attorney Ingrid Rosenquist asked the judge to impose a sentence of three years in custody and order that Paullin complete 40 hours of anger management and a chemical dependency evaluation.
Deputy Public Defender Jesse Myers asked the judge for a two-year deferred sentence, saying Paullin has no prior felony convictions. Myers said Paullin was sincere in his “remorse and regret” for the “ugly incident.”
Paullin offered his “humble apologies” before he was sentenced. He also submitted a letter of apology addressed to the victim, who did not attend the hearing.
“I am not a racist and never have been, despite what I’ve said and done,” Paullin told the judge.
Watters read the letter written by Paullin and described it as an “appropriate apology.” She also agreed with Myers’ description of the crime.
“This was an ugly incident, and one that won’t be tolerated in our community,” she said.
Watters then ordered Paullin to serve a three-year deferred sentence, saying it would give him the opportunity to prove he was sincere in his apology. She also ordered Paullin to complete an anger management class and undergo a chemical dependency evaluation.
“I expect you to demonstrate to everyone what you told me here today,” the judge said. “If you don’t, there will be consequences.”