John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOSEPH STEELE, also known as “Joey,” 32, of Hartford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 36 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for drug and firearm offenses.
According to the evidence disclosed during his trial, on June 14, 2017, the Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Unit received information that STEELE was in possession of a firearm while operating a white Cadillac. Investigators located the Cadillac and conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of Enfield Street and Capen Street. After STEELE consented to a search of the vehicle, investigators lifted a rear seat cushion and found a stolen .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol, 50 wax folds of fentanyl, and two knotted plastic bags containing approximately 6.5 grams of crack cocaine.
In April 2016, STEELE was convicted in Connecticut Superior Court of possession of a pistol without a permit, and was sentenced to 18 months of incarceration for that conviction. He was released from state prison in March 2017 and was serving a three-year term of probation when he was found in possession of the stolen firearm, fentanyl and crack.
On April 16, 2018, a jury found STEELE guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”), one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. STEELE was acquitted of one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
STEELE has been detained since his arrest on June 14, 2017.
This investigation was conducted by the Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Unit and the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crime Gang Task Force, which includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Gustafson and Jocelyn Courtney Kaoutzanis.
This prosecution stems from Project Longevity, a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities. Through Project Longevity, community members and law enforcement directly engage with members of groups that are prone to violence. A critical component of the Project Longevity strategy is the “call-in,” a face-to-face meeting where Project Longevity partners engage group members and deliver a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it. STEELE attended a call-in in May 2017 and declined Project Longevity services that were offered to him.