A 27-year-old Helena woman who participated in an armed home invasion and robbery was found guilty Thursday, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, a jury found Arielle Rose Cowser guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce and robbery affecting commerce. The jury acquitted Cowser of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Prosecutors say a co-defendant, Kielan Brett Franklin, gave the victims money to travel to Washington to buy an ounce of heroin and began sending them threatening text messages after they returned with less than an ounce and declined to immediately turn it over.
Prosecutors say the victims let Cowser into their Helena home on March 8, 2019, and Cowser then allowed Franklin, Gerald Allen Hiler and Morgan Victor Pitsch into the home a few minutes later. Hiler and Pitsch were wearing masks and had guns, and the robbers fled with a small amount of heroin and the female victim's wedding ring, cellphone and purse after the victims called 911.
Franklin, Hiler and Pitsch have pleaded guilty.
Cowser faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to five years of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided over Cowser's three-day trial, which began on Tuesday. Cowser was released pending sentencing, which is set for June 11.
“Drug trafficking not only is illegal but also dangerous and leads to violence among those involved in the trade. We will prosecute drug-related robberies to the full extent of the law," Alme said. "I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bartleson along with the FBI, Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri River Drug Task Force for investigating and prosecuting this case."
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