DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Wifredo A. Ferrer
, United States Attorney
Contact: Cyndee Campos

Riviera Beach Resident Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison as an Armed Career Criminal

A Riviera Beach man was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.  Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Carlos Canino, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, Stephen J. Stepp, Chief, Palm Beach Gardens Police Department (PBGPD) and Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO), made the announcement.

Joseph McDonald, 36, of Riviera Beach, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks to 240 months (20 years) in federal prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for being an armed career criminal in possession of a firearm. 

According to evidence presented at trial, McDonald fled from the police on two separate occasions during the course of stolen vehicle investigations.  On July 28, 2013, McDonald dropped a fully loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol during his flight from members of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.  Then, on December 17, 2013, deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office recovered a fully semi-automatic pistol from McDonald’s flight path.  A forensic examination report confirmed that the firearm that was recovered on December 17, 2013 had been used in a Jupiter, Florida shooting the preceding day.  McDonald had previously been convicted of numerous felonies and was thereby prohibited from possessing a firearm. 

McDonald was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which provides a mandatory sentencing range of fifteen years to life for individuals who have been convicted of a federal gun offense and have at least three prior qualifying felony convictions for crimes of violence and/or serious drug offenses.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is a Department of Justice nationwide initiative that combines traditional law enforcement activities with community-based support and intervention programs. The two primary goals of the PSN initiative are to reduce and prevent violent crimes and to help past offenders adjust and re-enter the community.  This program emphasizes and facilitates cooperative federal, state and local prosecution of firearm crimes, violent criminals, repeat violent offenders and gang related criminal activity. 

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF, PBGPD and PBSO.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandy Galler and Daniel Funk.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov

Field Division: Miami Field Division