Felon Sentenced For Possessing A .40-caliber Pistol
ST. PAUL – Earlier today in federal court, a 33-year-old felon was sentenced for possessing
a .40-caliber, semi-automatic pistol. United States District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank
sentenced John Lee Bartel, no known address, to 180 months in prison on one count of being a
felon in possession of a firearm. Bartel was charged on May 17, 2011, and pleaded guilty on
May 31, 2011.
In his plea agreement, Bartel admitted that from March 30 through April 20, 2011, he
possessed the firearm. Because Bartel is a felon, he is prohibited under federal law from
possessing a firearm at any time. Bartel’s prior convictions include third-degree burglary (2003),
theft of a motor vehicle (2003 and 2005), and fleeing police in a motor vehicle (2007, 2008, and
2009). All of those convictions were in Ramsey County. Bartel has additional convictions in
Freeborn, Hennepin, Washington, and Wright counties in Minnesota and St. Croix County in
According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the present case, Bartel led police on a
high-speed chase through a St. Paul east side neighborhood after failing to stop, pursuant to a
police request, following a traffic violation. During the pursuit, Bartel drove his Yukon truck off
the road, crashing it into a ravine. Officers then observed Bartel exit the truck with something in
his right hand. The police ordered him to stop, but Bartel dropped the object, later discovered to
be a pistol, and fled on foot. He was ultimately apprehended, and the recovered pistol was found
to have been stolen from a Hastings residence.
This case was the result of an investigation by the St. Paul Police Department and the U.S.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Hastings Police
Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lola Velazquez-Aguilu and LeeAnn
Note, this case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (“PSN”), an initiative launched by the
U.S. Justice Department in 2001 to promote a multi-jurisdictional, comprehensive approach to
reducing gun crime in America. PSN provides resources to strengthen law enforcement and
crime prevention partnerships that work to make our communities safer.