DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Damon P. Martinez
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth Martinez

Armed Career Criminal From Albuquerque Sentenced to Fifteen Years for Unlawful Possession of Firearm

Ponce Prosecuted Pursuant to Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – Michael Scott Ponce, 38, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced today in federal court to 15 years in federal prison for being an armed career criminal.  Ponce will be on supervised release for three years following his term of incarceration. 


The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari E. Brandenburg, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Chief Gorden Eden, Jr., of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, III.


U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that Ponce was prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders based primarily on their prior felony convictions for federal prosecution.  At the time of his arrest in this case, Ponce had been convicted of two counts of aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon causing great bodily harm, and trafficking a controlled substance in the Second Judicial Court for the State of New Mexico in Bernalillo County.  Ponce also had a prior federal conviction on a cocaine trafficking charge.  When arrested in this case, Ponce was also on supervised release after having served a sentence of incarceration on the federal conviction.


            Ponce was arrested on July 13, 2015, on a criminal complaint alleging that he unlawfully possessed a firearm and ammunition on June 27, 2015, in Bernalillo County, N.M.  According to the criminal complaint, on June 27, 2015, APD officers responding to reports of a shooting in downtown Albuquerque observed a vehicle driven by Ponce as it struck another vehicle as Ponce attempted to flee from the area.  APD officers pursued Ponce into a residential neighborhood where they took him into custody.   As they were arresting Ponce, the officers observed a firearm cartridge in Ponce’s vehicle.  Before they arrested Ponce, the APD officers also observed Ponce throw an item from his vehicle, and later found a semiautomatic pistol in the area where they had observed Ponce throw the object.


Ponce was subsequently indicted on July 30, 2015, and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. 


On Sept. 16, 2015, Ponce pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on June 27, 2015, he possessed a semi-automatic pistol even though he was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition due to his prior felony convictions.


The statutory maximum sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm is ten years in prison.  The sentence is enhanced to a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison for defendants like Ponce who are deemed to be armed career criminals. 


This case was investigated by the ATF office in Albuquerque and APD with assistance from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Mysliwiec prosecuted the case as part of the federal “worst of the worst” anti-violence initiative.  Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior felony convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.  Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.


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Phoenix Field Division