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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Southern District of Indiana

For Immediate Release

Friday, May 11, 2012

Robert E. O’Neill, United States Attorney

Contact: Tim Horty
(317) 229-2409

Hogsett Announces Sentencing of Linton Man on Charges Relating to Goose Pond Shooting

Federal prosecution a result of U.S. Attorney’s ongoing Violent Crime Initiative

INDIANAPOLIS — Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Brandon Criss, age 28, of Linton, was sentenced today to 70 months (5 years, 10 months) in prison by U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence following his guilty plea to charges of unlawfully possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and possessing an unregistered firearm.

Last year, our office made a promise to Hoosiers that we would do all we could to hold accountable those who illegally possess and misuse firearms in our communities, Hogsett said. Today’s sentencing should send a powerful message as to how seriously federal criminal justice treats those who engage in this kind of reckless, dangerous behavior.

The charges stemmed from an incident on July 14, 2011, in which Criss fired a sawed–off shotgun near the parking area of Goose Pond State Park in Greene County. Pellets from the shotgun blast struck and injured a nearby park visitor, who was loading a kayak onto his car at the time. Despite his injuries, the visitor was able to drive to the nearby Linton Police Department, where he reported the shooting to authorities.

Based on the description provided by the injured park visitor, Greene County Sheriff’s deputies and Indiana Department of Natural Resources officers responded to Goose Pond and quickly located Criss, who was attempting to make his getaway riding a stolen bicycle. As deputies and park rangers approached, Criss threw a backpack he was carrying into a nearby field. The backpack was recovered and determined to contain a New England Firearms, 20 gauge shotgun.

At the time of his arrest, Criss appeared to be under the influence of an unknown controlled substance and was transported to the Greene County General Hospital prior to being taken to the Greene County Jail. At the jail, Criss admitted he had shot the gun at Goose Pond, but claimed he did not realize there were park patrons in the parking lot.

Inspection of the shotgun from Criss’ backpack revealed the barrel of the weapon had been cut down to approximately 11 ½ inches, making it a sawed–off or short–barreled shotgun under federal law. Possession of such a weapon requires a special registration which Criss does not have.

Authorities later determined that Criss was a convicted felon, making it unlawful for him to possess any firearm or ammunition under federal law. Specifically, on February 13, 2009, Criss was sentenced to two years imprisonment after being convicted of one count of intimidation and one count of battery on a law enforcement officer resulting in bodily injury, both Class D felonies.

This prosecution was the result of a collaborative investigation as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Violent Crime Initiative, which included significant assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Announced in March of 2011, the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) represents a districtwide strategy to work with local law enforcement and county prosecutors to combat drug traffickers and criminals that use and carry firearms in their illegal activities. In the first nine months of the initiative, the VCI produced a dramatic increase in the number of gun–related charges brought federally – from just 14 felony possession charges in 2010 to 103 last year.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Rinka, who prosecuted the case for the government, Judge Lawrence sentenced Criss to three (3) years of supervised released to be served at the end of his prison term, during which time he will be required to participate in drug and mental health treatment plans.