A Ballantine man accused of committing a string of burglaries in Yellowstone County in 2017 has been sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to two of those charges in federal court.
Anthony William Felton, 27, also faces seven felony charges in Yellowstone County District Court related to other burglaries or thefts. Those cases have been on hold while his federal case wound through U.S. District Court in Billings.
Judge Susan Watters on Wednesday sentenced Felton to two years in prison, followed by three years supervised release, after he admitted to two counts of attempted bank robbery. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped a third charge for illegal possession of a firearm.
In October 2017, Felton broke into Beartooth Bank, on the 4100 block of King Avenue West, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors. Felton ran after setting off the alarm at the bank building, and officers later found a grinder, pocket knife and extension cord near the ATM.
Then in December 2017, Felton tried to break into another ATM inside the Stockman Bank branch building in Worden. He broke into the building at 3 a.m., court documents state, and although he was unsuccessful in accessing the ATM, he caused about $12,000 in damages.
Felton later admitted to both robberies during an interview with investigators, according to court documents.
Felton has remained in custody since he was arrested in December 2017 on outstanding warrants, after sheriff’s deputies chased him down on the shoulder of Interstate 94. Deputies used a Taser to bring him down after he ran from a trailer park in Lockwood.
At the time of his arrest, Felton’s backpack contained a green bandanna, a pry bar and bolt cutters. A black concrete saw was found in his vehicle.
Felton’s defense attorney, Lance Lundvall, objected to a sentencing enhancement for the burglary tools, which prosecutors argued should be considered dangerous weapons. Watters denied the request, saying federal law doesn't differentiate the use or threat to use objects as weapons and citing case law in which the enhancement had been applied previously for possession of a screwdriver.
Addressing the court prior to his sentencing, Felton said he took full responsibility for his actions, which he said occurred during a time of daily meth use.
“My actions were purely based on my addiction,” Felton said, adding that he only committed crimes that wouldn't endanger others.
“Not only do I need treatment, but I want treatment,” he added. “I have a daughter and I want to be a father now.”
Watters ultimately went with the sentence recommended by prosecutors, noting the seriousness of Felton’s convictions and pending state-level charges. But she also acknowledged the alleged seven-month crime spree “clearly was motivated and driven, I would agree, by your methamphetamine use.”
Lundvall requested a separate hearing to determine the restitution Felton owes to the banks. Prosecutors have filed documents claiming more than $31,000 in stolen money and damages. Watters did not immediately set a date for the restitution hearing.
Felton also is charged in state district court with seven felony counts of either burglary or theft during the same time span.
Beginning in June 2017 and continuing through that December, he allegedly broke into a business in East Billings, burglarized a Heights home and made off with 29 guns, stole a vehicle, pried open an ATM at a casino and took $6,860, stole an ATM and broke into three gaming machines at the Red Lion Hotel, attempted to steal an ATM from Geyser Park and stole an ATM from the La Quinta Inn.
Those pending cases are scheduled for a jury trial in Yellowstone County District Court in April.