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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 19, 2023

Jacksonville Felon Sentenced to More Than Four Years in Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing Firearms

Jacksonville, Florida – Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced Cory Lee Kelly (35, Jacksonville) to four years and nine months in federal prison for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. Kelly had pleaded guilty on February 8, 2023. As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit a machinegun, semi-automatic AR-style pistol, and assorted ammunition.

According to court documents, on April 28, 2022, a trooper from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) pulled over a vehicle being driven by Kelly for a seatbelt violation. The vehicle was occupied by Kelly and a two-year-old child. At Kelly’s driver’s side window, the trooper smelled marijuana. Kelly did not possess a valid driver license and the trooper also determined that Kelly had an outstanding arrest warrant for an unresolved charge of driving with a suspended license. Kelly was detained, and based on the smell of marijuana, his vehicle was searched.

During the search, the trooper located remnants of marijuana and a Glock-type pistol, which once the driver’s side door was opened, was readily visible under the driver’s seat. The pistol had no serial number, was loaded with 26 rounds of ammunition, and had a so-called “Glock switch” – a device used to convert the pistol into a machine gun, allowing it to fire multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger. Further investigation revealed that Kelly had previously been convicted of possession of a controlled substance while armed, a felony offense. The trooper arrested Kelly for, among other things, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, a state offense. On May 3, 2022, while his state case was pending, Kelly was released from custody after posting bond.

On July 19, 2022, an officer from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office observed Kelly driving a car while speeding, with illegal window tint, and an expired registration. The officer signaled Kelly to pull over, which he did. As the officer approached the driver’s side window, Kelly rolled it down a minimal amount.  When asked to roll it down further, Kelly complied, and the officer smelled marijuana. Kelly was alone in the car and visibly within his reach was an AR-style semi-automatic pistol on the passenger-side of the car. When asked, Kelly could not produce a driver license and confirmed that he was a convicted felon. Kelly was detained, and pursuant to a search, in addition to the semi-automatic pistol (loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition), officers located counterfeit currency, and bags of marijuana and crack cocaine. Kelly was arrested for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

On September 1, 2022, while his two state prosecutions were pending, Kelly was released from custody after posting bond. On September 15, 2022, a federal grand jury indicted Kelly for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and he was arrested at his home on September 22, 2022. When officers entered the home, they located a loaded shotgun on the floor of a bathroom. As a convicted felon, Kelly is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law. 

This case was investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J. Coolican and Mai Tran.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.


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