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Two Felons Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Possession of Firearms in Kankakee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2009

Urbana, Ill.– Two men were sentenced recently to mandatory minimum 15-year federal prison terms under the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program in Kankakee, as announced by Rodger A. Heaton, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey sentenced John Earl Bender, 24, of the 700 block of East Eagle Street, Kankakee, on June 11, 2009; Floyd Johnson, 47, of Marion, Arkansas, was sentenced on May 21, 2009.

Each was charged in separate, unrelated cases by a federal grand jury in October 2008. On March 16, 2009, Bender entered a plea of guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Johnson pled guilty on April 16, 2009, to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Under federal sentencing guidelines, both men were determined to be armed career criminals, subject to mandatory minimum 15-year prison terms for having three or more prior convictions for serious drug offenses or crimes of violence.

According to court documents and during his plea hearing, Bender admitted that he possessed a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol on August 8, 2008. Bender admitted he ran from agents with the Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group as they were patrolling an area near the 1100 block of Court Street in Kankakee shortly after midnight. According to court documents, Bender said he had found the gun the day before and intended to sell it to make some money since he was on parole and was living out of his car.

During Johnson’s plea hearing on April 16, 2009, and according to court documents, Johnson admitted he possessed a .22 caliber revolver at a hotel in the 1200 block of East Court Street, in Kankakee, in July 2008. Johnson had traveled to Kankakee to work as a painter and was staying at the hotel the week of July 9, in a room paid for by his employer. On July 13, Johnson was arrested on warrants from Kankakee county. On July 16, the date of Johnson’s scheduled check-out, a hotel employee was cleaning the room when the handgun was found in a dresser drawer.

Both men have been detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since their indictment in October 2008, and will be transferred to the federal Bureau of Prisons to serve their respective prison terms.

The charges in both cases were investigated by the Kankakee Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.

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