U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
Eastern District of California
For Immediate Release
July 26, 2012
Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood
PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS NEWS: Taking Felons with Firearms off the Streets
The PSN initiative brings together federal, state and local law enforcement to combat gun and gang crime. At the core of PSN is increased federal prosecution to incapacitate chronic violent offenders as well as to communicate a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders. United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announces the following actions in federal PSN cases.
These cases are the product of investigations by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the ATF, ICE HSI, the Fresno Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.
"Our mission at ATF is combating violent crime," explains Jeffery E. Vind, Acting Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Division. "ATF is the federal law enforcement agency uniquely positioned to keep violent criminals like these off our streets and out of our neighborhoods."
Stockton Man Indicted for Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm
On July 19, 2012, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Scott James, aka Brett Michael Blaisure, 34, of Stockton, with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that James, who has several felony convictions for possession of controlled substances, auto theft and weapons violations, illegally possessed a handgun.
Fresno Felon Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearms Offenses
On July 23, 2012, Joseph Avila, 31, of Fresno, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of ammunition. His sentencing has been scheduled for October 15, 2012. According to court documents, on August 18, 2011, Fresno police officers approached Avila, who became nervous, dropped a baggy that contained suspected methamphetamine, and ran. The officers gave chase, apprehended him, and found a magazine loaded with 5 .25 caliber rounds of ammunition in his possession. Avila has prior felony convictions for transportation of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and threats.
Fresno Felon Sentenced to 4 Years and 9 Months for Firearms Offenses
On July 23, 2012, Edward Lemos, 35, of Fresno, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison by Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii for being a felon in possession of ammunition. According to court documents, on May 25, 2011, Lemos was in possession of a Ruger .357 Magnum Revolver. Lemos has prior felony convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, receiving stolen property, and evading a peace officer.
Clovis Man Pleads Guilty to Firearms and Drug Trafficking Charges
On July 23, 2012, Robert Cervantes, 44, of Clovis, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, distributing methamphetamine, and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. According to court documents, on April 26, 2011, Cervantes sold 28 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant. He told the confidential informant that he was looking to buy a gun. When he was arrested, Cervantes had 28 grams of methamphetamine and a loaded Miroku Model Liberty Chief .38-caliber revolver in his possession. Cervantes has five prior felony convictions for burglary and drug trafficking offenses. He faces a sentence of five to 40 years in prison and a $5.25 million fine.
Fresno Man Charged with Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition
On July 26, 2012, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Francisco Efrain Mondragon, 24, of Fresno, with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that on July 15, 2012, Mondragon was in possession of a Taurus revolver, after having been convicted of a felony assault with a firearm on a person.
Fresno Man Charged with Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm
On July 26, 2012, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Joshua Marquez, 28, of Fresno, with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that on April 28, 2012, Marquez was in possession of a semi-automatic pistol after having been convicted of felony offenses of infliction of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant on two occasions and possession of methamphetamine for sale.
Fresno Felon Pleads Guilty to Illegally Possessing Ammunition
On July 23, 2012, Albert Matthew Ochoa, 22, of Fresno, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of ammunition. According to court documents, on September 12, 2011, Ochoa was in possession of a firearm magazine and a round of .40-caliber ammunition. He has a prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on October 1, 2012.
Huron Resident Pleads Guilty to Being an Illegal Alien in Possession of a Firearm
On July 23, 2012, Luis Lopez-Cortez, 19, of Huron, pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. On October 28, 2011, a norteno gang member was shot by a sureno gang member. In the course of investigating this, officers spoke with Lopez-Cortez, and he consented to a search of his vehicle. Officers found a .22 caliber Sturm Ruger and Company Bearcat revolver in the engine compartment of the defendant's car. Lopez-Cortez admitted to being in the U.S. illegally. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on October 15, 2012.
Assistant United States Attorney Paul Hemesath is prosecuting the Stockton case. Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly A. Sanchez is prosecuting all other cases.
Unless otherwise noted, the maximum statutory penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges against defendants James, Marquez, and Mondragon are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.