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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Southern District of Indiana

For Immediate Release

November 29, 2012

Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney

Contact: Tim Horty, Public Information Officer
(317) 229-2409

Hogsett Announces Sentencing of Bloomington–Area Resident as Part of Gun, Drug Prosecution

More local results from ongoing U.S. Attorney Violent Crime Initiative

BLOOMINGTON — Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced today that Thomas Owings, age 30, of Bloomington, has been sentenced to twenty years in federal prison after his conviction on a variety of federal gun and drug charges. This prosecution, which also involves four other individuals who were charged in January of this year, was the result of a collaborative investigation by the Bloomington Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Working together with the Bloomington Police Department and our federal partners, we are sending a powerful message that there is no place in this community for lawlessness and violence, Hogsett said. The lengthy sentence received by the defendant in this case should make clear how seriously federal criminal justice treats these types of offenses.

This case reinforces ATF’s commitment in pursuing violent offenders who disrupt and jeopardize the safety of our communities, said ATF Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker, Columbus Field Division. ATF will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement, and prosecutorial allies to ensure that those who choose to participate in illegal violent acts are held accountable.

The January indictment alleged that between November and mid–December, 2011, Owings and four other defendants conspired to break into a Bloomington–area property that they believed would contain a large quantity of narcotics. The indictment alleged that in preparation for their criminal activity, four of the five defendants came to illegally possess firearms that they believed would be used in the course of their robbery. Local and federal authorities monitored these activities, and on December 15, 2011, interdicted during the alleged robbery attempt, arresting the five defendants.

In addition to Owings, four other defendants were charged at the time, and are still awaiting trial. They include:

  • • Dennis English, age 25
  • • Courtney Pickett, age 27
  • • Andre Patterson, age 31
  • • Lyssa Aliano, age 20

All five individuals were charged with conspiring to possess, with the intent to distribute, 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. All five defendants were also charged with the attempted possession of 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, as well as violating the Hobbs Act (robbery). Defendants English, Owings, Pickett, and Patterson also faced gun charges relating to their alleged possession of a firearm as previously convicted felons.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Barry D. Glickman, who prosecuted Owings for the government, federal law requires that defendants serve a minimum of 85% of their sentence in a correctional facility.

All four remaining defendants face ten years to life in prison on the charges of conspiring to possess and attempting to possess the cocaine, as well as up to $10 million in fines for each charge. They also face up to an additional twenty years for violating the Hobbs Act, and those facing gun charges could face sentences of up to ten years on each count if convicted. Those charges also carry potential fines of up to $250,000 for each count.

A charge is an allegation only, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea.