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Box Elder man sentenced for witness tampering

Missouri River Federal Court Building in Great Falls, Montana
Houle court document
Posted at 11:25 AM, May 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 12:17:07-04

GREAT FALLS — Leon Houle of Box Elder, who admitted to intimidating and threatening a witness who would testify against him regarding his involvement in a kidnapping and attempted murder on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on May 10, 2022.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that on March 17, 2019, at Houle’s command, Dakota Houle (Leon's brother), shot the victim, identified as John Doe, in the back as the victim attempted to run from his would-be killers. The Houle brothers, along with two women, lured John Doe to a residence where they planned to rob him of methamphetamine and kill him.

The Houle brothers beat John Doe with weapons when he arrived, robbed him at gunpoint, forced him to remove his shoes and told him they were taking him to the mountains to kill him. The brothers forced John Doe into his own car as pleaded for his life.

Leon drove the vehicle, with John Doe in the front passenger seat and Dakota directly behind the victim in the rear passenger seat with a shotgun in his hand. When the vehicle slowed near a cattle guard, John Doe jumped out of the moving car and tried to run through the snow. The government further alleged that Leon told Dakota to “Shoot him!” Dakota shot the victim in the back of the head. Believing John Doe was dead, the Houle brothers and others then ran away.

John Doe survived and sustained severe and permanent injuries. From court documents:

As a result of the shooting, John Doe suffered extremely serious lifethreatening injuries and he has permanent brain damage, memory loss, and scarring. Doe was hospitalized for weeks and has had several surgeries and continues will follow-up care related to his injuries. Doe still has shotgun pellets lodged in his skull that are too dangerous for medical professionals to remove.

Leon continues to deny involvement in the kidnapping and shooting of John Doe.

Leon was indicted on five felony charges related to the shooting. While in custody on the charges, Leon made statements to another person, identified as John Doe II, about the crimes and then contacted various individuals in an attempt to influence or prevent John Doe II’s testimony. The government further alleged that after pleading guilty in January, Leon continued to threaten and harass witnesses by making threatening gestures, including throat-cutting and trigger-pulling gestures, to the witnesses.

Leon Houle, 37 years old, pleaded guilty in January to witness tampering. Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Houle to 78 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said in a news release.

Last month, Judge Morris sentenced Dakota Houle to 14 years and two months in prison (details).