U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Minnesota
District of Minnesota
For Immediate Release
September 12, 2013
John R. Marti, Acting United States Attorney
Contact: Jeanne F. Cooney
White Bear Lake Felon Pleads Guilty to Possessing a Nine-Millimeter Pistol
MINNEAPOLIS — Yesterday in federal court in St. Paul, a 25–year–old White Bear Lake felon pleaded guilty to possessing a nine–millimeter, semi–automatic pistol. On September 11, 2013, Marquis Leval Cotton pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Cotton, who was indicted on December 3, 2013, entered his plea before United States District Judge Donovan W. Frank.
In his plea agreement, Cotton admitted that on April 30, 2012, he possessed the pistol, which was recovered by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Because he is a felon, Cotton is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm or ammunition at any time. His prior Chisago County convictions include fourth–degree assault (twice in 2010) and criminal damage to property (2010). In 2005, Cotton was convicted in Anoka County for aggravated robbery. Because those convictions constituted crimes of violence, Cotton will now be subject to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. That act mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison for anyone with such a record who is subsequently convicted in federal court for being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition.
Judge Frank will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Newberry.
The case was charged federally through Project Exile Minneapolis. That law enforcement initiative was launched on July 22, 2010, as part of a city–wide effort to reduce gun violence. Through Project Exile, the Minneapolis Police Department and the ATF work together to apprehend serial criminals for violations of gun laws. Then, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office teams up with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine where those offenders will most effectively be prosecuted – state or federal court. Those determinations are based on the offenders’ criminal histories and current charges, among other factors. To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has brought charges against approximately two dozen serious habitual criminals through Project Exile Minneapolis.