For Immediate Release
La Crosse Man Sentenced to 46 Months for Illegal Firearm Possession
MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Lee D. Strawder, 40, La Crosse, Wisconsin was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 46 months in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a felon. This prison term will be followed by 36 months of supervised release. Strawder pleaded guilty to this charge on June 21, 2022.
On August 11, 2021, La Crosse Police Department officers purchased fentanyl and crack cocaine from Strawder in La Crosse using a confidential informant.
On September 8, 2021, La Crosse Police officers pulled over a car driven by Curtis Ross because officers knew that probable cause existed to arrest the passenger, Strawder, for violations of his state bond. Officers smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and searched the vehicle. Under the front passenger seat where Strawder was seated, officers found a loaded Canik 9mm handgun, a loaded Beretta 9mm handgun, and a bag containing over an ounce of marijuana. Strawder’s DNA was found on the Canik handgun. Ross’s DNA was found on the Beretta handgun. Both Strawder and Ross were prohibited from legally possessing firearms due to prior felony convictions.
At all relevant times, Strawder was out on bond for four different state cases. Since the events in the federal case, Strawder engaged in criminal conduct resulting in three additional state cases, all seven of which remain open. Strawder’s criminal history includes prior convictions for illegal firearm possession and drug dealing.
At sentencing, Judge Peterson noted that Strawder is a repeat firearm offender and said that a prison sentence was important to protect the community.
Co-defendant Curtis Ross pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and was sentenced to 81 months in federal prison by Judge Peterson on September 9, 2022.
The charge against Strawder was the result of an investigation conducted by the La Crosse Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office also provided assistance in the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven P. Anderson prosecuted this case.
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.