DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of California

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 22, 2021
David L. Anderson
, United States Attorney
Contact: Gregg Lowder

Tenderloin Drug Dealer Sentenced to Over 11 Years in Prison for Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking

SAN FRANCISCO – Jontae Carlos Sandifer was sentenced today to 138 months in prison for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession with the intent to distribute heroin, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Vince Chhabria, United States District Judge.

Sandifer, 40, of Patterson, California, pleaded guilty to the charges on March 10, 2020.  As part of the guilty plea, Sandifer admitted in a plea agreement that on August 12, 2019, he was in an argument with a man in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco and pulled a semiautomatic handgun out of the trunk of his car.  He fired one shot across Leavenworth Street in the man’s direction.  The bullet missed the man.  Sandifer further admitted that he possessed twenty-five plastic twists of heroin found in his nearby parked car and that he intended to distribute that heroin.  Sandifer also admitted that he possessed fourteen additional rounds of ammunition with the pistol he fired and that he possessed the weapon and ammunition to further his intended heroin distribution.  In addition, Sandifer admitted he knew he previously had been convicted of multiple felony offenses which made it illegal for him to possess firearms or ammunition.

The government filed a sentencing memorandum asserting additional facts providing a broader description of Sandifer’s crimes.  The government stated Sandifer fired the shot toward the man at approximately 6:45 p.m. while the man was crossing the street near the corner of Leavenworth Street and Golden Gate Avenue, a time when pedestrians were passing by.  The bullet missed the man and all the passers-by, and it struck a building.  Inside the building, children were practicing for an upcoming play.  The building where the children were practicing is the home of a non-profit tutoring facility for under-resourced students and, according to the government, the bullet struck the outside and narrowly missed hitting the ground floor window.  The government’s memorandum further describes that Sandifer left the scene immediately but police shortly detained him.  The police located and searched his parked car.   

“The Tenderloin belongs to the families, businesses, workers, and others who are fostering a community in this wonderful neighborhood,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “For too long drug dealers and users have descended on the Tenderloin as a convenient place to commit their crimes. The Tenderloin desperately needs vigorous prosecutions to carry forward the work of professional law enforcement.  We will continue to do all we can in federal court.”

“ATF is committed to making the Tenderloin a safer place for everyone,” said Special Agent in Charge Gorman, San Francisco Field Division, ATF.  “Protecting the public is at the core of ATF’s mission.  The San Francisco Field Division will continue to work diligently with our partners to eradicate the illegal possession and use of firearms.  This investigation is an example of the dedication and importance ATF and our partners place in honoring our commitment to this community.”

A federal grand jury indicted Sandifer on October 10, 2019. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C); possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A); and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).  He pleaded guilty to all counts.  Sandifer has been in custody since August 12, 2019, and will begin serving his sentence immediately.

In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Chhabria also ordered Sandifer to serve a three-year period of supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Noah Stern is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Marina Ponomarchuk and Ralph Banchstubbs.  The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the San Francisco Police Department. 

This investigation and prosecution is part of the Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin, a multi-agency effort spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office focusing on fighting crime in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.

Further Information:

Case #: 3:19-cr-00518 VC
A copy of this press release will be placed on the U.S. Attorney's Office's website at
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at
Judges' calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court's website at 
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to Gregg Lowder at (415) 436-7044 or by email at or to Abraham Simmons at (415) 436-7264 or by e-mail at



San Francisco Field Division