For Immediate Release
St. Petersburg Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Controlled Substances with Intent to Distribute and Possessing a Firearm as a Convicted Felon
TAMPA, Fla. — United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Erik Barner, 44 from St. Petersburg, has pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it and one count of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Barner faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the drug offenses. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison on the firearm offense. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court documents, on February 22, March 1, and March 10, 2023, Barner sold cocaine to a confidential informant working with the St. Petersburg Police Department. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for Barner’s home and vehicle. Officers seized four firearms and various ammunition that was dispersed throughout Barner’s home. In Barner’s vehicle, law enforcement located 176 grams of cocaine. Barner has prior felony convictions for possession of cocaine, throwing a deadly missile at or into an occupied vehicle, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and two trafficking in cocaine convictions. He is therefore prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the St. Petersburg Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Samantha Newman.
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 of Justice 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.