Friday, June 22, 2012

Richmond Man Convicted by Federal Jury of Illegal Firearm Possession

OAKLAND, CA—A Richmond, California man was convicted by a federal jury yesterday of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

The jury found that on July 24, 2011, Dontae Jerome Jones possessed a Jimenez Arms 9mm semi-automatic pistol loaded with Winchester 9mm ammunition. The guilty verdict followed a two-day jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken.

Evidence at trial showed that after a traffic stop on July 24, 2011, Jones, 29, possessed the loaded 9mm pistol found under the rear of the front passenger seat in the car he was driving. Although Jones admitted the gun belonged to him at the scene, at trial his attorney argued that he had falsely confessed only to protect his girlfriend who owned the car and was in the car in front passenger seat at the time of his arrest. However, Jones was captured on recorded calls made after his arrest trying to cover up his possession of the loaded gun. He asked that “other shells” be removed from his truck before they could be discovered by authorities. He also asked that an acquaintance sign an affidavit claiming the gun belong to him and not the defendant. Further, witnesses testified to observing Jones with a gun within a month of the day he was arrested. Finally, a low-level amount of DNA recovered from the gun was consistent with Jones’s DNA.

Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on September 24, 2012, before Judge Wilken in Oakland. The maximum statutory penalties for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), are 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release. However, any sentence following conviction will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Brian C. Lewis and Michelle J. Kane are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Janice Pagsanjan, Noble Hughes, and Patty Lau. The defendant’s arrest resulted from the efforts of a task force that operated last summer between the Richmond Police Department and the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office. That task force sought to curb the increasing gun violence in Richmond. The prosecution is also the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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