U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Minnesota
District of Minnesota
For Immediate Release
January 25, 2012
B. Todd Jones, United States Attorney
Contact: Jeanne F. Cooney, Director of Community Relations
Moorhead Felon Pleads Guilty to Possessing a .410–Gauge Shotgun
MINNEAPOLIS — Earlier today in federal court, a 27–year–old felon from Moorhead pleaded guilty to possessing a .410–gauge shotgun. Justin James Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Rodriguez, who was indicted on June 21, 2011, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge John R. Tunheim.
In his plea agreement, Rodriguez admitted possessing the gun on January 27, 2011. According to a police report filed in the case, officers spotted a stolen jacket inside a car. During the execution of the related search warrant, they also found the short–barreled shotgun under a duffel bag on the rear floor of the vehicle. After finding the gun, officers found seven shotgun shells and one spent shotgun shell. Police also uncovered several photos of Rodriguez holding the shotgun.
Because he is a felon, Rodriguez is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition at any time. Rodriguez’s previous felony convictions, all of which occurred in Cass County, include possession of a controlled substance (2005), burglary (2005), conspiracy to commit theft (2006), and delivery of methamphetamine (2008).
For his crime, Rodriguez faces a potential maximum penalty of ten years in prison. Judge Tunheim will determine his sentence at a future hearing. This case is the result of an investigation by the Moorhead Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey M. Bryan. Note, the case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative launched by the U.S. Justice Department in 2001 to promote a multi–jurisdictional, comprehensive approach to reducing gun crime in America. PSN provides resources to strengthen law enforcement and crime prevention partnerships that are working to make our streets and communities safer.