For Immediate Release
Former Security Guard Sentenced for Possession of Firearms
Defendant had been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S Attorney Andrew Birge announced that Joseph James Shingola II, 50, of Comstock Park, Michigan, was sentenced today to 36 months’ imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff. Shingola was committed to a mental institution by the Kent County Probate Court in 1988, after he accidentally shot and killed his best friend. For much of his adult life he was employed as an armed security guard, and had a permit to carry a concealed weapon off duty. Shingola obtained the permit and his weapons by concealing his commitment on applications and background check forms. The commitment was filed before such orders were routinely shared with law enforcement.
In August 2018, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received a tip that Shingola was a prohibited person in possession of firearms. They learned he had several prior firearms-related contacts with local law enforcement, including recently showing a woman a pistol after a traffic dispute. When agents went to talk to Shingola at his house, he refused, and drove away to hide his weapons at his mother’s house. ATF executed search warrants and recovered an AR-15 style semiautomatic assault rifle, two semiautomatic pistols, several other long guns, magazines and ammunition.
While awaiting trial, Shingola asked his 17-year-old daughter to buy him a gun in her name when she turned 18. She refused and told her mother, whom he assaulted when she confronted him. Shingola afterward pled guilty to domestic violence assault in the 63rd District Court (Kent County) and pled guilty to being a prohibited person in possession of firearms in U.S. District Court. In imposing the three-year sentence, Judge Neff noted the defendant’s history of impulsive and violent behavior, and said "deterrence and protection of the public are of paramount importance." She recommended the Bureau of Prisons house him at a facility specializing in mental health treatment and counseling.
"Consistent with the Department’s Project Guardian, we’re prioritizing the enforcement of federal laws that prohibit possession of a firearm, such as by felons and the mentally ill. Those laws exist for good reason: the risk to the safety of the community," said Birge.