BILLINGS - A Billings man who admitted to stealing firearms from a dealer after breaking into the business by using a construction excavator to tear a hole in the wall was sentenced Wednesday.
Erik Stephen Deaner, 46, pleaded guilty in December 2021 to theft from a federal firearms dealer and was sentenced to five years and two months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided and also ordered Deaner to pay $1,000 in restitution.
Federal prosecutors said in court documents that on Oct. 21, 2021, Deaner stole firearms from Castle Arms, a federal firearms licensee located in Lockwood, by using a construction excavator to tear down a section of wall and door.
The excavator had been taken from a nearby construction site. The excavator had been locked and no keys were missing, but the key was universal so anyone with the manufacturer’s key could potentially access the excavator.
An investigation determined that five pistols and one antique rifle had been stolen and that Deaner had been in the business previously and had behaved oddly.
Investigators went to Deaner’s home and arrested him on an outstanding warrant when he came outside. Deaner admitted to using the excavator to break into the business and to stealing the firearms. Deaner said he knew he was prohibited from possessing firearms but that he liked firearms. All of the stolen firearms were recovered from his garage.