For Immediate Release
Versailles Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Possessing Nine Firearms Stolen from Pawn Shop
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Versailles, Mo., man who stole nine firearms during the burglary of a local pawn shop pleaded guilty in federal court today for illegally possessing the firearms.
Joseph Marin Melendez, 47, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., to being a felon in possession of firearms.
By pleading guilty today, Melendez admitted that he burglarized Ozark Gun & Pawn in Versailles during the early morning hours of July 22, 2016. Morgan County deputies recognized Melendez on the surveillance video. Melendez used a crowbar to pry open the front door of the store, walked behind the counter, grabbed several firearms then left the store.
Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Melendez’s residence. They recovered a Glock handgun with an Ozark Gun & Pawn price tag attached inside a minivan parked at the residence. Inside the residence, they recovered the remaining eight stolen firearms inside a white bucket underneath a wheelbarrow outside the residence.
The firearms included a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, three Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic pistols, a Glock .357-caliber semi-automatic pistol, three Sturm Ruger .357-caliber magnum revolvers, and a Taurus .357-caliber magnum revolver.
Melendez is a convicted felon, and therefore prohibited by federal law from possessing any firearms or ammunition.
Under federal statutes, Melendez is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Morgan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.