For Immediate Release
Citrus County Convicted Felon Sentenced for Possession of 138 Firearms and Ammunition
Ocala, Florida – Senior United States District Judge Wm. Terrell Hodges today sentenced Michael Paul Watkins (41, Citrus Springs) to six years and six months in federal prison for possession of firearms and ammunition by a previously convicted felon. Watkins pleaded guilty on February 26, 2015.
According to court documents, Watkins had been previously convicted in state court on felony offenses of handling and fondling a child under the age of 16, and two escapes. As a convicted felon, he was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law. However, in early October 2014, law enforcement received information that Watkins had been using a third party to illegally purchase firearms and ammunition on his behalf. Federal agents obtained search warrants for Watkins’s home, business, and a nearby property. Upon executing the warrants, agents recovered 138 firearms, including many AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, and more than 30,000 rounds of ammunition inside his fortified home. They also discovered several fully assembled pipe bombs, along with the components to manufacture pipe bombs.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.
This is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy. United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Regina Lombardo, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. It is also a part of ATF’s Frontline strategy to reduce violent crime in communities.