The man involved in an hours-long armed manhunt in East Missoula in January pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge Tuesday.
William Newhoff was arrested in late January after a chase with Missoula County deputies ended in a nearly four-hour search of an East Missoula neighborhood.
In addition to a litany of criminal charges in Missoula County District Court related to the incident, Newhoff — who has an extensive criminal history — also was charged with a pair of federal crimes for being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.
According to court records, Newhoff allegedly helped steal two trucks from a Missoula business earlier that month. On Jan. 30, a detective saw one of the trucks parked outside an East Missoula motel, but when he called for more officers, the detective saw Newhoff run out of the motel, get in the truck and drive away.
In a subsequent chase, Newhoff allegedly drove through a church parking lot, hitting a fence and a home before crashing into a tree near a mobile home park. He got out and ran.
Hours later, with the help of its K-9 unit, deputies found Newhoff inside one of the trailers, armed with a pistol, according to court records.
Newhoff's criminal history includes theft, burglary and forgery convictions in Missoula, as well as an escape from the Mineral County jail in 2009.
After reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on his gun charges, Newhoff pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Newhoff’s plea agreement in the federal case does not have a specific recommendation from prosecutors for when he is sentenced on Nov. 16, although Newhoff told U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch his attorney advised him he could spend more than eight years in prison. He also will be required to forfeit the 9 mm handgun with which he was found in East Missoula.
His local case — which has a broader range of charges including felonies for criminal endangerment, criminal mischief, burglary and two counts of theft —has been on hold since May while the federal case was ongoing. Newhoff has not entered any pleas in that case, but has a hearing in the case on Aug. 30.