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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney

Contact: Lauren Horwood

Convicted Gang Member Faces Charges for Illegal Firearms Possession

FRESNO, Calif. – United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging Michael Aguilar, 27, of Fresno, with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm not registered in the National Firearms Registry.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Sanchez is prosecuting the case.

The indictment alleges that on March 31, 2011, Aguilar was in possession of a Wards Hercules shotgun (with an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel length of less than 18 inches), and had previously been convicted of three felony offenses. In 2002, Aguilar was convicted in Fresno County Superior Court for possession of a controlled substance and attempted grand theft. In 2009, he was convicted in Fresno County Superior Court for participating in a criminal street gang.

U.S. Attorney Wagner stated: This case was prosecuted federally as a result of the Project Safe Neighborhood program in the City of Fresno, in which federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies team up with community organizations to assist gang members in choosing alternatives to violence. Those members who persist in violent behavior risk federal prosecution, including lengthy sentences.

Anytime a gang member has access to a sawed off shotgun there is a grave concern for the safety of our community, stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Stephen C. Herkins. As a result of the Project Ceasefire initiative and the coordinated effort between the United States Attorney’s Office, the Fresno Police Department and ATF, we continue to take violent criminals off the street.

The maximum statutory penalty for the charge is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.