The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on July 12, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, RICHARD LYNDON MEZA, a 20-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. MEZA was sentenced to a term of:
•Prison: 103 months
•Special Assessment: $300
•Supervised Release: 5 years
MEZA was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and being a felon-in-possession of a firearm.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
MEZA pled guilty to robbery by accountability and is awaiting sentencing. As such, he is prohibited from being in possession of firearms.
In 2011, ATF undercover agents met with XX, a person who had expressed an interest in a possible drug robbery. XX had discussions with the undercover agents about the possibility of bringing ZZ into the robbery crew. ZZ accompanied XX when he met with the undercover agents on November 16, 2011 in Billings. XX, ZZ and several others were part of the crew and at the meeting. XX, ZZ and the others were introduced to UC 3 who purported to be a disgruntled drug courier. UC 3 advised them that on past occasions, UC 3 had observed between 50 and 70 kilograms of cocaine at the residences used by this drug trafficking organization to store narcotics. Furthermore, UC 3 informed them that on such occasions, three individuals have been present and have been observed with firearms during the transfer of cocaine. The meeting was terminated upon an agreement by all parties present to meet again on an unspecified date.
On November 24, 2011, XX was arrested by the Billings Police Department on an outstanding warrant. In addition, he had a small amount of methamphetamine on his person and thus he was no longer part of the crew.
UC 1 had text and phone contact with ZZ on November 25 regarding XX's arrest. On November 28, 2011, ZZ met the undercover agents and sold them a Remington 870 Wingmaster 12 gauge shotgun. He was accompanied by MEZA and another man. UC 1 asked ZZ if XX had been hitting anyone, as in home invasions. ZZ replied that XX "ain't done nothin', I'm the one that's been hitting everybody." ZZ then told UC 1 about a home invasion that he and MEZA had just done, in which MEZA and another girl had also beaten a person in the house for drugs. ZZ said that XX was in the residence during that home invasion as well. ZZ talked about previously being part of XX's crew, and reported that he would "do anything as long as the pay is right." Referring to the original home invasion robbery, ZZ said he planned to bring one of his own guys along because he didn't trust XX not to kill him. UC 1 discussed a possible new robbery opportunity with ZZ, MEZA, and the other man for a courier with money, not drugs. ZZ quickly noted that while no drugs would be there, money would be and that he liked it better because "the risk ain't as bad." ZZ reported he had "done the math" on the first deal and thought it could have been 2.2 million dollars. UC 1 said this was more like $20,000 and ZZ said that $5,000 was more than he had yesterday. ZZ said he'd rather "get money than birds (dope) anyway." UC 1 asked if ZZ was down with the deal, and ZZ said "I'm for it, I'm all for it." UC 1 specifically looked at MEZA and asked MEZA if he was down, and MEZA replied "ain't no question about that, bro." When asked if they had done anything like this before, MEZA and the other man looked at each other and laughed and then MEZA said, "yeah, I'm down." Later, ZZ said about his "team," if "I have to question them, they might as well be in the river." UC 1 asked if the crew will still just think about the deal, and he'd call.
On November 29, 2011, ZZ met the undercover agents and sold them 2 firearms, a Ruger Blackhawk .357 revolver and a Hi Point.380 pistol. He was accompanied by MEZA who also had two additional handguns, one in each pocket. ZZ admitted that the group had just beaten a person at an undisclosed location. MEZA stated that he "had been putting ************s to sleep, man." UC 1 provided ZZ and MEZA with more details about the possible robbery. UC 3 was also present and advised that he had a person from Chicago coming to Billings for the purpose of purchasing 4 kilograms of cocaine. UC 3 stated that the individual would have the money for 2 kilograms and be fronted the rest. UC 3 thought the person would have between $20,000 and $40,000 in cash. UC 3 stated that the person was a large muscle bound person, and MEZA asked "is he strapped or what?" inquiring about if he would be carrying a firearm. UC 3 said he would be. UC 1 asked both if they were ready for it tomorrow, and ZZ replied, "hell yeah, I need this." UC 1 advised that the money was drug proceeds. The group agreed to meet the following day. Before leaving, UC 3 told the two that he didn't care if they killed the courier, to which MEZA asked if they had insurance on the undercover location, as they'd just start a fire. Later that night, UC 1 called ZZ to finalize the meet time. ZZ claimed that they were driving around town looking for the truck that the courier was coming in. ZZ claimed that it would be easier that way. He asked UC 1 if it would just be easier to make the vehicle disappear, implying that the money was probably inside, but ZZ finally agreed to wait until the following day.
On November 30, 2011, ZZ, MEZA and the other man met with UC 1 at the same location. During that meeting, UC 1 confirmed that all three were still planning to do the robbery and received confirmation from each that they were going to participate. MEZA already had a bandana covering his face during the meet. ZZ was armed with two pistols, one a Sterling .22 and the other a pink Sig Sauer .22. MEZA was armed with a Kel Tec 9 mm pistol and a knife. The other man was armed with a butterfly knife. UC 1 said that the courier would know what was up if they were all standing around with masks on, and MEZA reported he would be in the other room until ZZ would pat down the courier to get his gun. UC 1 observed ZZ holding the two guns in his hand and asked if he was going to have the guns out when the courier got there, and ZZ put the guns in the front pocket of his hoodie. ZZ said the plan was to abduct the courier, drive him out in the middle of nowhere, take his phone, and thus it would be a long time before he could report anything. MEZA mentioned zip ties, and UC 1 asked what he had said, but they replied that they had forgotten them. ZZ saw there was duct tape on the counter and mentioned they could use that and UC 1 said that he could. ZZ also said he was going to take the courier's pickup. ZZ was wearing a bandana around his neck and was wearing gloves when he showed up. When UC 1 left the room, ZZ, MEZA and the other man were arrested by ATF agents. MEZA was interviewed by law enforcement officers. After he was Mirandized, MEZA cried and was unable to give a statement.
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that MEZA will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, MEZA does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was conducted by the ATF.