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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
Monday, November 28, 2022

St. Pete Armed Career Criminal Sentenced to More Than 22 Years in Prison for Possessing a Firearm

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Katherine Kimball Mizelle has sentenced Aunyis Cherry (27, Clearwater) to 22 years and 11 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Cherry also has been ordered to forfeit the firearm. A jury found Cherry guilty on June 16, 2022.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Cherry drove a car with a counterfeit license plate in the area of 14th Street South in St. Petersburg. A uniformed detective with the St. Petersburg Police Department arrived in the area to conduct a traffic stop and Cherry fled from the car but was apprehended. The vehicle’s owner couldn’t be determined, and an inventory search revealed a loaded FN Herstal pistol. The jury heard testimony that Cherry’s DNA was located in three places on the firearm, including the handle and trigger. As a previously convicted felon, Cherry is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.

This case was investigated by the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mike Gordon and Craig Gestring and was tried by Assistant United States Attorneys Samantha Beckman and James Preston.

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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