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Gunfight over fake meth deal nets Billings man 10 years in prison

Posted at 11:39 AM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 14:08:12-04

BILLINGS – A Billings man who admitted to drug trafficking crimes after a fake methamphetamine deal led to a gunfight at the seller’s residence has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and to three years of supervised release.

James Armstrong Higgins, 41, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office District of Montana.

Court documents state that on June 3, 2019, co-defendant Gregg Johnson introduced Higgins to a man in a Billings Walmart parking lot. Higgins paid the man $3,000 for a package wrapped in black plastic, which the seller said was meth.

Everyone went their separate ways, but instead of meth the seller had provided Higgins with a brick of rock salt.

When Higgins realized he had been cheated, he, a friend and Johnson went to the seller’s house to recover the money. Higgins, Johnson and the friend all were carrying firearms.

No one answered when they pounded on the door. Higgins’ friend went to a rear door and as he began to enter, the shooting started.

The friend and Johnson both fired their weapons. Several people were shot and wounded. There was no evidence Higgins brandished or fired his gun.

Johnson was sentenced to seven years and 10 months in prison in the case.