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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Wisconsin
For Immediate Release
Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-wdwi
Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Grand Jury Returns Indictments in the Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. - A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments today. You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

La Crosse Man Charged with Possessing Methamphetamine for Distribution and Gun Crimes

Benjamin W. Thoreson, 42, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is charged with possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possessing a loaded firearm in furtherance of that drug trafficking crime and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The indictment alleges that on August 2, Thoreson possessed methamphetamine for distribution and two loaded handguns.

If convicted, Thoreson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the methamphetamine charge and a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of life on the charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of that drug trafficking crime. Federal law requires that any penalty imposed for the charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed. The charge of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition has a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. 

The charges against Thoreson are the result of an investigation by the La Crosse Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan is handling the prosecution.

La Crosse Man Charged with Illegally Possessing Firearm

Briante C. Banks, 30, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that on May 2, he possessed a loaded 9mm handgun.

If convicted, Banks faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the La Crosse Police Department, La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan is handling the prosecution.

Eau Claire Man Charged with Gun Crime

Nathaniel R. Larson, 25, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The indictment alleges that on July 11, Larson possessed a loaded 9mm handgun.

If convicted, Larson faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Eau Claire Police Department, West Central Drug Task Force and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan is handling the prosecution.

The Banks and Larson indictments have been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition, and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.

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