For Immediate Release
Marion County Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearms Offense
Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces that Willie Iva Jennings (35, Reddick) today pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Jennings faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years, and up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, on July 15, 2018, law enforcement officers discovered Jennings behind the wheel of a recently stolen vehicle. Investigators had been led to the location using the car’s global positioning system. Jennings, the sole occupant of the car, did not have a valid Florida driver license.
While taking Jennings into custody, investigators found a loaded semi-automatic firearm in his pocket. Jennings, a convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law, admitted that the firearm belonged to him. In addition, Jennings’s criminal history, including at least three felony convictions for the sale of cocaine and a separate felony conviction for resisting an officer with violence, qualifies him for enhanced sentencing as an Armed Career Criminal.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ocala Police Department, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In October 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to develop districtwide crime reduction strategies, incorporating the lessons learned since the program’s inception in 2001. In the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.