For Immediate Release
Monday, September 17, 2018
, United States Attorney
Maria Chapa Lopez
Contact: William Daniels
Sarasota Felon Pleads Guilty to Largest Explosives Seizure in Florida
Field Division: Tampa Field Division
Tampa, Florida – Marc Jason Levene (57, Sarasota) has pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of explosives by a convicted felon. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has been set for December 12, 2018.
According to the plea agreement, in 2016, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began investigating Levene for selling explosives without a federal license or permit. Based on Levene’s multiple prior felony drug convictions, he was prohibited from possessing or selling any explosive materials. In January 2016, the ATF and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office seized various explosive fuses from a shed behind Levene’s home in Sarasota.
In late 2017, ATF learned that Levene was selling explosive fuses online, notwithstanding the prior seizure and prohibition. The ATF initiated an undercover investigation that confirmed Levene was selling the fuses online through a website called ThePyroPro.com. Agents also learned that Levene was maintaining a storage unit at a self-storage facility in Sarasota. An explosives detection K-9 alerted to the presence of explosives in the storage unit.
In February 2018, special agents and explosives specialists with ATF, bomb technicians and detectives with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, and hazardous devices technicians with the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations executed multiple search warrants at Levene’s residence and his storage unit. During the searches, law enforcement personnel seized thousands of pounds of explosive fuses and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. In total, during this investigation, the ATF, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations seized approximately 7,733 pounds of explosive fuses from Levene.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon Gaugush.
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.