News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Career criminal pleads guilty to possessing a sawed-off shotgun

September 4, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 56-year-old career criminal pleaded guilty to possessing a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun. Samuel Westmoreland, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty to one count of being a career criminal in possession of a firearm. Westmoreland, who was indicted on July 11, 2012, entered his plea before United State District Court Judge John R. Tunheim.

In his plea agreement, Westmoreland admitted that on May 17, 2012, police found him in possession of the 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun at his residence in St. Paul. 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 case will be subject to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, which mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. The maximum sentence is life in prison. Judge Tunheim will determine the sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.

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.

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