A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Billings resident Rudolph "Rudy" Stanko, a felon with a lengthy history of tangling with law enforcement and the justice system, back to prison for 13 months for violating release conditions.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull said Stanko, 65, had no respect for the law as he sentenced him to the high end of the guideline range and imposed 23 months of supervised release.
Stanko, who sometimes took over for Assistant Federal Defender Dave Merchant, denied violating release conditions, saying he didn't understand a lot of words, like felon.
"Parsing words does not work here," Cebull told Stanko.
The judge continued, "I think Mr. Stanko understands a lot more words than he admits." Stanko was trying to justify conduct he knew violated his release conditions, the judge said.
At the hearing, which lasted more than two hours, Stanko used a walker and told the judge he was his seventh day of a hunger strike at the Yellowstone County jail to draw attention to his medical problems. Stanko said the jail staff was not providing him his cancer medication and other prescriptions and he had a toothache.
Cebull ordered Merchant to look into what happened to Stanko's prescriptions. The judge also ordered Stanko be sent to a federal medical prison for diagnosis and treatment.
Stanko's latest legal problems stemmed from convictions in 2006 on two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms in Nebraska. He was sentenced to six years in prison and eventually was released to Montana. Previously, Stanko had been convicted of conspiracy in Colorado in 1984 and served six years in federal prison in a case involving selling tainted meat to the federal school lunch program.
A petition filed by the federal Probation Office alleged Stanko violated his release conditions by failing to report within the time limit when he had contact with law enforcement, by associating with felons or persons involved in criminal activity and not being truthful with his probation officer.
Cebull ruled that Stanko violated his conditions after hearing testimony from Stanko, along with government evidence that included taped phone conversations between Stanko and J.B. Baugus, also of Billings, who is serving a 26-year federal prison sentence in Terre Haute, Ind., for drug, firearms and carjacking crimes. Stanko said he knew Baugus while he was in the Indiana prison.
Besides Stanko's felony record, he has a history of traffic violations. Stanko successfully challenged Montana's "reasonable and prudent" traffic speed law, which led to the reinstatement of a numerical speed limit on Montana's highways in 1999.
Stanko also has said he is an ordained minister in the Church of the Creator, a white supremacist organization.