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MISSOULA – A federal judge convicted a Manhattan man of providing false information on a form when trying to buy a firearm, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said today.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, on Oct. 1, found Joshua Rodney Meech, 29, guilty of false statement during a firearms transactions. The one-day bench trial was held on Sept. 28. Sentencing was set for Jan. 21, 2021. Meech was detained.

Meech faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

“Keeping firearms out of the hands of persons with protective orders is essential to keeping intimate partners and children safe, particularly during this pandemic when domestic violence is up. Persons who provide false information on firearms purchase forms will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for investigating and prosecuting this case,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.

The prosecution presented evidence at trial that Meech attempted to buy a 9mm semi-automatic pistol from Bob Ward & Sons, Inc., in Bozeman on April 4. In court records filed in the case, the prosecution said Meech, while shopping for firearms at the store, completed a Firearms Transaction Report, known at ATF Form 4473, signed and dated the form and provided it to an employee for a background check. A few days later, Bob Ward’s was notified that Meech’s request had been denied.

Meech had checked a box on the form that he was not subject to a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking, or threatening his child, and intimate partner or the child of such a partner. On Jan. 10, the District Court in Gallatin County issued a temporary restraining order against Meech directing him not to commit any acts of violence or harass, threaten, abuse or stalk the petitioner, now his ex-wife, and three minor children. The parties agreed to a Stipulated Order of Protection, which was signed by Meech and his attorney, on Feb. 26. The Stipulated Order was to remain in effect until the parties mutually agreed to dissolve it or upon further order of the court. The Stipulated Order included the statement, “Federal law provides penalties for possessing, transporting, shipping or receiving any firearm or ammunition.”

The Stipulated Order was terminated on May 20 by a motion from the petitioner.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This case is part of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative launched in the fall of 2019 to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Through Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana is working to enhance coordination of its federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. In addition, Project Guardian supports information sharing and taking action when individuals are denied a firearm purchase by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for mental health reasons or because they are a prohibited person.

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