News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Career criminal pleads guilty to possessing a nine-millimeter pistol

August 10, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court, a 44-year-old career criminal pleaded guilty to possessing a nine-millimeter pistol. Michael Dennis Stanke, of Lino Lakes, specifically pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Stanke, who was indicted on June 11, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen.

In his plea agreement, Stanke admitted that on March 8, 2012, he visited his mother at her residence in Avon, Minnesota, leaving there with a nine-millimeter pistol taken from the house. He stole a vehicle from a nearby driveway and was stopped and arrested a few hours later by Minnetonka police. Officers found the loaded gun lying on the front passenger seat.

Because he is a felon, Stanke is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm at any time. His prior Ramsey County convictions include two counts of third-degree burglary (1989), theft (1989), fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle (1991), theft of a motor vehicle (1993), first-degree assault (2000), and first-degree aggravated robbery (2000). In addition, Stanke was convicted in Hennepin County for theft in 1996 and Dakota County for theft of a motor vehicle in 1997.

Since at least three of those offenses constitute crimes of violence, sentencing in the current federal case will be subject to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. That act mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. Because the federal criminal justice system does not have parole, Stanke will spend virtually his entire prison sentence behind bars. Judge Ericksen will determine his actual sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.

This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Minnetonka Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter.

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.

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