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Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Monday, July 20, 2015
Benjamin B. Wagner
, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood

Three Appear in Federal Court on Firearms Charges

FRESNO, Calif. — Juan Valenzuela, 34, and Ernie Rodriguez, 39, both of Fresno, and Anthony Rodriguez, 32, of Modesto, appeared before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill today on federal firearms charges, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Valenzuela was sentenced to three years in prison for possessing a firearm after a conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor. Judge O’Neill commented on the Valenzuela’s lengthy history of domestic violence offenses, and said that the he was lucky in this case that no one was harmed by the bullets discharged from his gun. 1:14-cr-131-LJO

Ernie Rodriguez, 39, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. His sentencing is set for October 13, 2015. 1:15-cr-008-LJO

Anthony Rodriguez was sentenced to four years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. 1:15-cr-035-LJO

U.S. Attorney Wagner stated: “Any time a firearm is taken out of the hands of a criminal, our neighborhoods are safer. As seen in these cases, Project Safe Neighborhood brings together federal and local law enforcement to combat gun and gang crime. Increased federal prosecution seeks to incapacitate chronic violent offenders and communicates a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders.”

“ATF’s primary mission is to reduce violent crime and in doing so protect the citizens of our communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge, Eric D. Harden. “We will continue to aggressively pursue these repeat offenders with our law enforcement partners and remove dangerous weapons from their grasp and hold them accountable for their crimes.”

These cases resulted from investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Fresno Police Department, the Modesto Police Department, and the Mendota Police Department. The cases are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a joint initiative to combat gang and gun violence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Sanchez is prosecuting Juan Valenzuela and Ernie Rodriguez. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincenza Rabenn prosecuted Anthony Rodriguez.

Rodriguez faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


San Francisco Field Division