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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Northern District of Iowa

For Immediate Release

March 21, 2012

Stephanie M. Rose, United States Attorney

Contact: Peter Deegan, Public Information Officer
(319) 363-6333

Storm Lake Man Gets 15 Years for Firearm Conviction

A Storm Lake man who a jury convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm was sentenced on March 12, 2012 to 15 years in federal prison.

Darwin Zoch, age 43, of Storm Lake, Iowa, received the prison term after a jury found him guilty on November 16, 2011, of being a felon in possession of two firearms and 646 rounds of ammunition. Zoch had previously been convicted of several felony offenses.

Evidence presented at trial and sentencing showed that, during the Spring of 1991, Zoch burglarized the Odebolt–Arthur Middle School in Arthur, Iowa, the Coast to Coast in Holstein, Iowa, and Ida Grove Parts, Inc., in Ida Grove, Iowa. He also attempted to burglarize Rich’s Food Town in Battle Creek, Iowa. Zoch committed at least one of these crimes while armed or displaying a firearm in a threatening manner. Defendant’s crime spree was brought to an end when he was convicted and sentenced in Ida County, Iowa, on five counts of burglary in the second degree, one count of attempted burglary in the second degree, and related lesser offenses.

Despite the fact the state convictions prevented Zoch from lawfully possessing firearms, he continued to hunt with, slaughter with, control varmint with, and otherwise acquire, transfer, and possess firearms on multiple occasions after he was released from state prison until February 2011. Zoch’s unlawful possession of firearms came to the government’s attention when a state search warrant (for a non–firearms state matter) was executed at Zoch’s home and revealed four loaded weapons and 646 assorted rounds of ammunition located throughout the house. On November 17, 2011, Zoch was convicted at trial of being a felon in possession of two of these weapons and 646 assorted rounds of ammunition. After his federal conviction, Zoch was placed on federal court supervision while he awaited sentencing. On February 7, 2012, Zoch cut off a GPS bracelet he was required to wear as a condition of his Iowa probation in an unrelated matter, and he absconded from both his state probation and his federal supervision. He was located and arrested by the United States Marshal Service on February 13, 2012, in Corpus Christi Texas.

Zoch was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett. Zoch was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed. He must also serve a 5–year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Court file information is available at The case file number is CR 11–4031.

The case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a cooperative local, state and federal program aimed at the enhanced prosecution of gun crimes. The case was investigated by special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Sheriff and Deputies of the Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office, Officers of the Storm Lake, Iowa Police Department, Deputy and Special Deputy United States Marshals. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Tremmel and Forde Fairchild.