A Browning man suspected of trying to put a federal corrections officer in a chokehold while incarcerated at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ jail on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation pleaded guilty to assault Monday, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said in a press release.
Joseph Ernest Potts, 32, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
The assault happened on Aug. 15, 2021, when Potts was in custody in the Browning jail, which is a federal correctional facility operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A corrections officer, who was supervising male inmates as they returned to their respective cells from the dayroom, noticed Potts pacing back and forth between his cell and a cell across the hallway. Potts then grabbed the officer around the neck and began struggling with him, attempting to put the officer in a chokehold. Other inmates had to intervene and pull Potts off the officer. The officer reported pain and discomfort for more than a week after the assault.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided over the hearing. Sentencing is set for Nov. 16. Potts was detained pending further proceedings. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kalah A. Paisley is prosecuting the case. The FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services conducted the investigation.
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