For Immediate Release
Watertown Man Charged with Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Watertown, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.
Michael Ray Mitchell, age 42, was indicted on January 12, 2021. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on February 3, 2021, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that on or about December 18, 2020, Mitchell, who had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, and being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, possessed a Beemiller Incorporated, Hi-Point brand name, Model C9, 9mm Luger caliber, semi-automatic pistol. Said firearm was shipped and transported in interstate commerce.
The charge is merely an accusation and Mitchell is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice's signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department's past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Codington County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Sioux Falls Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Clapper is prosecuting the case.
Mitchell was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.