GREAT FALLS — Carlyle Ray Wells, who admitted breaking into North 40 and stealing 27 firearms, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday, according to a news release from Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson.
Wells, 25 years old, pleaded guilty on October 8, 2020, to theft of a firearm from a federal firearms licensee.
Prosecutors said that on November 30, 2019, Great Falls police officers responded to a burglary alarm at North 40 Outfitters. Officers saw that a gun display case had been smashed and guns appeared to be missing.
Security footage at the business showed a small pickup truck had parked outside, just prior to the alarm. One individual exited the truck, forcefully entered the store, broke the gun case, took firearms and fled.
Officers identified the vehicle as a stolen Ford Ranger and found it near Wells' residence. Security footage showed an individual, whose clothing and physical description matched the North 40 burglar, walk toward Wells' residence carrying a large bag. During a search of Wells' residence, law enforcement recovered 16 firearms, 15 of which were stolen from North 40. Home surveillance video obtained through a search warrant showed that Wells entered the residence shortly after the burglary carrying a large bag with a rifle and price tag sticking out.
An audit showed that 27 firearms were stolen in the North 40 burglary. Eleven of the stolen firearms have not yet been recovered.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris presided and sentenced Wells to six years and three months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
DECEMBER 4, 2020: