Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Rhode Island

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney

Contact: Jim Martin, Director of Community Relations
(401) 709-5357

80 Months in Federal Prison for Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Massachusetts Man Admitted to Police to Driving to Providence
with a Loaded Firearm to Rob a Drug Dealer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Worcester, Mass., man who admitted to police that he drove to Providence with the intent of robbing a drug dealer while armed with a firearm was sentenced Tuesday to 80 months in federal prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, it was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

Michael Avila, 26, who has a lengthy criminal record including crimes of violence, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith in March 2010 to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents and information presented to the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard B. Myrus, on the evening of November 10, 2009, a Providence Police Department patrol unit observed a vehicle parked on Cass Street with the engine running, no lights on, and the vehicle’s Massachusetts license plate hanging off. When the officer activated his emergency lights to illuminate the vehicle the occupants began behaving suspiciously, and were directed to exit the vehicle. Officers discovered a loaded pistol in a pouch on the back of the front passenger seat. The defendant was seated in the right rear passenger seat.

When questioned by police, Avila admitted that he had handled the firearm while in the vehicle and that he and the other occupants of the vehicle had traveled to Providence from Worcester, Mass., to rob a drug dealer. Avila told police they were waiting for the drug dealer when the officer came upon the vehicle.

A subsequent search of the vehicle also resulted in the recovery of a Glock 9 mm pistol from the pocket of the driver of the vehicle, Jose Diaz, 21, of Worcester, Mass; a loaded shotgun in a case in the rear luggage area; a black ski mask and rubber gloves inside cloth gloves. Diaz was sentenced in August 2010 to serve 46 months in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release, having pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The matter was investigated by Providence Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).