U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
Eastern District of California
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood, Director of Community Relations
Lincoln Man Indicted for Possession of Multiple Firearms, Including Machine Guns and Grenade
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury returned a three–count indictment charging Eric William Smith, 36, of Lincoln, with being a felon in possession of multiple firearms, three machine guns and a fragmentation grenade.
According to the indictment, on January 20, 2011, a number of firearms were seized from Smith’s possession, including a Para Ordinance .45–caliber handgun; a Springfield Armory, 7.62 mm rifle; a Colt AR–15, .223–caliber rifle; a Colt AR–15, 5.56 mm rifle; a Beretta 12–gauge shotgun; a Smith & Wesson, M&P15, .223–caliber rifle; a Colt, AR–15, .223–caliber rifle; two Poly Technologies, AKS–762, 7.62 mm rifles; a Cobray SWD M–11, 9 mm pistol; and an M67 fragmentation grenade. Three of the firearms were machine guns. The indictment alleges that Smith was previously convicted of felony grand theft in Sacramento County.
The case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Roseville Police Department with assistance from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the Lincoln Police and Fire Departments, the Rocklin Police Department, Placer County Sheriff–s Office, Sacramento Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Assistant United States Attorney William Wong is prosecuting the case.
U.S. Attorney Wagner said:
The possession of military–style firearms and explosives by convicted felons poses a threat to the safety of the public, and to the safety of law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers confront criminals and criminal suspects every day. Officer safety is enhanced by prosecutions that take illegal firearms out of the hands of criminals, and we will continue to vigorously enforce federal firearms laws. Since the beginning of January 2011, this office has charged 32 defendants for felony firearms offenses in 31 cases.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there has been a dramatic rise nationwide in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty over the last 15 months. Last year was one of the deadliest years for law enforcement in the last two decades. At the current rate, killings of law enforcement officers in 2011 may exceed last year’s tragic numbers – in the last three months, 28 law enforcement officers have been killed either by firearms or felonious assaults.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder convened a meeting with over 30 representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to discuss what can be done to reduce the trend. Some of the ideas discussed in that meeting are now part of the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Officer Safety Initiative, which was announced on Tuesday. An important part of the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Initiative is working with state and local law enforcement agencies to target violent and dangerous offenders for federal prosecution under federal firearms laws.
By taking guns out of the hands of criminals, we keep our neighborhoods and communities safe. We also keep our law enforcement officers safe in a time when we have seen a rise in the number of officers killed in the line of duty, stated Stephen C. Herkins Special Agent in Charge.
Too many law enforcement officers die senselessly each year while bravely confronting violent criminals and gangs.
Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn said,
We’re proud to be part of a cooperative effort that resulted in removing this suspects and dangerous weapons from our community. Were grateful to all the state and local law enforcement and fire agencies, and ATF for their work in this investigation.
The maximum statutory penalty for each of the three counts charged in the indictment is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.