News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Career criminal indicted for possessing a sawed-off shotgun

July 11, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 55-year-old career criminal was indicted for possessing a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun. Samuel Westmoreland, of St. Paul, was charged with one count of being a career criminal in possession of a firearm and one count of possession of an unregistered, short-barreled shotgun.

The indictment alleges that on May 17, 2012, police found Westmoreland in possession of the gun. Because he is a felon, Westmoreland is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms at any time. His prior felony convictions include second-degree assault in Ramsey County in 1995; fourth-degree assault in Hennepin County in 1989; burglary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1979, and armed robbery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1983.

Since at least three of Westmoreland’s prior offenses constitute crimes of violence, sentencing in the current federal case, if Westmoreland is convicted, will be subject to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. That act mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. And because the federal system does not have parole, offenders spend virtually their entire sentences behind bars.

In addition, the indictment alleges that the gun was not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. If convicted on that charge, Westmoreland faces a potential maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison. All sentences, of course, are ultimately determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the St. Paul Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Paulsen.

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.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.

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