DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 8, 2017
A. Lee Bentley, III
, United States Attorney
Contact: William Daniels

Federal Grand Jury Convicts a Jacksonville Gang Founder for Possessing a Firearm

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury has found Maurice Phillip Mitchell (32, Jacksonville) guilty of unlawfully possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. Due to his status as an Armed Career Criminal, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. Mitchell has been identified as the founder of a violent gang (“Cut Throat Committee”) operating within Florida’s prison system.
 
Mitchell was indicted on April 28, 2016.
 
According to evidence presented at trial, Mitchell was operating a minivan in the Lackawanna area of Jacksonville on February 29, 2016, when he was encountered by a patrol officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO). The officer observed signs of intoxication and pursued Mitchell, who led the officer on a high-speed chase and ultimately crashed the minivan into a tree. Mitchell then exited the vehicle and fled on foot. A second JSO patrol officer, who had responded to assist, apprehended Mitchell a short time later, after finding him hiding under an SUV in a nearby parking lot. Upon returning to the scene of the crash, officers found a firearm on the dashboard of the crashed minivan. As a previously convicted felon, Mitchell was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.
 
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, with assistance from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Cofer Taylor and Kelly Karase.
 
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 Daryl R. McCrary, 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.
 
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Field Division: Tampa Field Division