Man admits harassing African American woman employed at Billings church

A man accused of making harassing telephone calls to an African American woman who provided him assistance at a Billings church has admitted to charges, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Joshua Leon Hiestand, 41, a pleaded guilty to harassing telephone calls, a felony. Hiestand faces a maximum of two years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Sentencing was set for Oct. 26. Hiestand was detained pending further proceedings.

The government alleged that on Nov. 12, 2020, a white male, who identified himself as Leon Hiestand, went to a church in Billings seeking assistance. Jane Doe, an African American who works at the church, provided him with a gift card.

Several days later, the church received a voicemail from a caller, who, using a derogatory term, stated that he would give more money to the church if it did not employ an African American. In Dec. 4, 2020, the church’s caller ID identified Hiestand as using the same number as in the voicemail.

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