Blackfeet Law Enforcement Officer Sentenced to Prison
GREAT FALLS, MO—The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, Montana, on June 23, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris, Michael Connelly, Sr., 57, of Browning, was sentenced to a term of 24 months’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, and a special assessment of $125.
U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said the conviction and sentence of Blackfeet Law Enforcement Officer Connelly represents the office’s dedication to ensuring that no defendant escapes justice. “Society bestows upon law enforcement officers a tremendous amount of power and trust. Officers are typically the best stock in which to invest such tools. But sometimes an officer abuses the power that society has so generously and graciously given to him. When that unfortunate step is taken, the justice system must ensure that the officer is prosecuted, punished, and no longer able to misuse his position.”
Officer Connelly was sentenced for receiving oral sex in his patrol vehicle while armed and on duty. The victim reported that Officer Connelly took her to a secluded place and threatened her with jail if she did not provide oral sex. When interviewed about the encounter, Officer Connelly lied to the FBI, telling agents that he never told the victim that she could either provide oral sex or go to jail. In a second interview, Officer Connelly admitted that he made such a statement.
A jury convicted Officer Connelly of a Civil Rights Violation and False Statement to a Federal Agent. In a Sentencing Memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon stated “Officer Connelly was a law enforcement officer and tribal prosecutor for decades. He knows that he cannot extract oral sex from passengers in his patrol vehicle, abuse his power as a law enforcement officer, or lie to the FBI. Knowing all of those things, Officer Connelly still committed the crimes.”
The Court sentenced Officer Connelly to 24 months of imprisonment, with three years of supervised release to follow. Because there is no parole in the federal system, the truth in sentencing guidelines mandate that Connelly will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Connelly does have the opportunity to shorten the term of custody by earning credit for good behavior. However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.