Vanatta Pleads Not Guilty To Firearms Charges
Joshua Patrick Vanatta, 30, of Bainville, appeared in federal court in Missoula before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto on June 25. He pleaded not guilty on charges of prohibited person in possession of ammunition and possession of a destructive device. A trial date of Sept. 1 in Great Falls has been set.
According to court documents, RooseveltCountySheriff’s Deputy Patrick O’Conner searched classified ads on Facebook May 26 and found a user attempting to discreetly sell firearms through the ad.
Court documents also stated that O’Conner advised ATF resident agent in charge Joseph Korth that firearms sales are common occurrence over Facebook and noted in this instance the seller was using obvious manufacturer names and language for firearms but called the items listed for sale as tools or toolbox.
The deputy also noted another listing by the same username and found a photograph of vehicle and residence known to be Vanatta’s.
Vanatta is on parole conditions with Montana Probation and Parole in connection to an attempted homicide case in Colorado where he shot two people and was ultimately convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
O’Connor contacted Vannatta’s parole officer Jacob Holden. Holden requested a search of Vanatta’s residence and authorized O’Connor to complete it.
Vanatta’s residence was searched by deputies who seized several items from inside his room. Deputies seized a slam-type weapon made of a series of pipes threaded together capable of firing 12 gauge shot shells. The slamtype weapon also had a portion of Velcro on the side of that matched a corresponding “side saddle” containing six rounds of 12 gauge shotgun shells. Six shotgun shells were also seized along with receipts for firearms accessories.
Vanatta was interviewed by O’Connor and allegedly admitted to manufacturing the device and that it is his.
If convicted of the most serious crime, Vanatta faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Vanatta was detained pending further proceedings.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.