More than a decade after he robbed banks and credit unions in Utah, Oklahoma, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming — including two institutions in Cody — Joshua M. Beckstead is still struggling …
More than a decade after he robbed banks and credit unions in Utah, Oklahoma, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming — including two institutions in Cody — Joshua M. Beckstead is still struggling to complete his sentence.
Beckstead served nearly eight years in federal prison, but court records show he’s been rearrested multiple times since his 2020 release for using drugs and, at one point, fleeing from his probation officer.
Last week, a federal judge revoked Beckstead’s supervised release — the federal equivalent of probation — for a third time in two years. According to reporting by K2 Radio, Beckstead’s latest violation came because he acquired drug test kits.
Beckstead robbed multiple financial institutions in 2012, making off with roughly $14,000 in what a federal prosecutor described as an escalation of a long criminal record.
Just prior to the robberies, Beckstead had been jailed on forgery charges in Ogden, Utah. He was released on May 8, 2012 for a dentist appointment, but never returned to jail. Days later, he instead started robbing banks and credit unions in multiple states — stealing $991 from a credit union in Ogden, $3,789 from a bank in Maysville, Oklahoma, and $2,836 from a bank in Cheyenne.
On June 19, 2012, Beckstead tried his luck in Cody. He entered Sunlight Federal Credit Union on 17th Street that morning and handed the teller a note that said something like, “Empty your drawer fast.” However, the teller had no cash at that point in the day, and Beckstead left.
A couple hours later, he tried again. Beckstead walked into the First Bank of Wyoming branch on Sheridan Avenue and displayed a similar note, adding to the teller that, “I’m here to rob you, give me all your $100s and $50s.”
The frightened employee gave him $3,350.
Beckstead went on to rob $3,067 from a credit union in Columbus, Montana, on June 26. In a victim impact statement written months later, the teller described her continuing anger over the crime.
“... I really felt bullied, like I was just a nothing standing in front of [him],” she wrote. “How could he just come in and take something that wasn’t his?”
However, authorities were closing in on Beckstead. Thanks in part to evidence gathered in Cody, a collaborative investigation between state and federal law enforcement agencies resulted in Beckstead’s arrest in North Dakota just days after the theft in Columbus.
He later pleaded guilty to five counts of bank or credit union robbery and received 112 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
“I have no question you’re a gentleman criminal,” U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl said at the March 2013 sentencing, adding that he was sure Beckstead was “kind” in the robberies.
“But the bottom line is that you took what wasn’t yours,” the judge said.
Going forward, Skavdahl said Beckstead had the choice to do the right thing or to continue on the same path.
“I leave it up to you …,” the judge said.
Since being placed on supervised release, court records indicate Beckstead hasn’t been charged with any new crimes, but he also hasn’t complied with the law.
After he was caught using meth three times in February 2021, Beckstead was required to wear an ankle monitor and referred to intensive outpatient treatment. He used meth again in April 2021, which resulted in two more months in prison and four months in a residential re-entry center. When he was next caught using meth in November 2021, Beckstead was put back on an ankle monitor, but he cut his bracelet and absconded in January 2022.
In a later letter to the court, Beckstead explained he took off because he had nowhere to keep his 107-pound purebred black Lab — a pet he described as his best buddy.
Beckstead was found in Utah in June 2022 and transferred back to Wyoming, where he received another six months of prison time and three months at a re-entry center.
He asked Skavdahl for a shorter sentence last summer, explaining that his Lab wasn’t going to be able to stay with a family member beyond January.
“If I don’t have my [stuff] straight by the time she moves … Hunter will have to go to the shelter,” Beckstead wrote, adding, “I’ll do whatever it takes for my dog. I’ll stay clean, I’ll comply with probation.”
But Skavdahl said he legally couldn’t reduce the sentence — and that he wouldn’t anyway.
“[Beckstead] asserts he will stay clean and comply with the conditions of supervised release for his dog’s sake, yet he has had his dog since May 2020 and has utterly failed to conform his conduct to the law during that time period,” Skavdahl wrote in October.
The judge encouraged Beckstead to find someone else to care for Hunter, saying he hoped “Mr. Beckstead’s obvious love for his dog will indeed encourage him to improve his behavior going forward.”
However, after being released from custody in December, Beckstead was found with the drug test kits and was discharged from a residential substance abuse treatment program, leading to another arrest in February. However, K2 Radio reported that Beckstead avoided more significant punishment when a hair test showed he hadn’t used any drugs; on March 7, Skavdahl credited him for the additional weeks he’d served in jail and put him back on supervised release for the remaining 14 months.