DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Roger B. Handberg
, United States Attorney

Fort Myers Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unlawfully Possessing Loaded Firearm as a Convicted Felon

FORT MYERS, Fla. – U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell has sentenced Steven Dewayne Barnes Jr., 26, of Fort Myers to 10 years and 1 month in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon and possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. The court also ordered Barnes to forfeit the firearm and ammunition possessed during the offense. Barnes had been found guilty following a bench trial on July 12, 2023.

According to court records, during the afternoon of Nov. 14, 2022, officers from the Fort Myers Police Department encountered Barnes walking along Washington Avenue in Fort Myers and engaged him in conversation. During their conversation, the officers made several observations which led them to believe that Barnes was concealing a weapon on his person. As a result, the officers conducted a patdown of Barnes and found a loaded Smith and Wesson handgun concealed under his clothing and tucked into his waistband. An inspection of the firearm revealed that its serial number had been scratched out. As a convicted felon who had previously served prison time, Barnes is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law. Forensic ballistics analysis later linked the firearm retrieved from Barnes to two recent drive-by shootings in Fort Myers.          

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Fort Myers Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon R. Eth.


Tampa Field Division