greene county man sentenced to more than 17 years
for illegal possession of firearms, counterfeiting
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Greene County, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for illegally possessing firearms and for counterfeiting after two separate incidents involving police pursuits in stolen vehicles – one in which he rammed another vehicle, fired a shotgun and attempted to carjack two vehicles.
Timothy W. Sparks, 48, of Greene County, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison without parole.
On Oct. 18, 2011, Sparks pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms and to counterfeiting. Sparks admitted that he broke into a Strafford, Mo., residence on Dec. 17, 2009, and stole several items, including two rifles and a shotgun. Sparks carried a sawed-off Hercules single-shot .410-caliber shotgun during the burglary, which he left behind in the house along with 14 shotgun shells. Law enforcement investigators later matched DNA from the shotgun to Sparks.
Sparks, driving a stolen Ford Expedition westbound on U.S. Interstate 44 in Greene County, tailgated another vehicle and rammed it from behind on Dec. 23, 2009. The other vehicle, a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix, was occupied by a married couple from Indiana who were on their way to Branson, Mo. Sparks then passed the Pontiac and displayed a shotgun, later determined to be the one stolen in the Strafford burglary. The couple followed Sparks= vehicle and called 911. Sparks took U.S. Highway 65, then exited the highway near Kearney Street. The couple followed Sparks to a parking lot, where he turned around and drove toward them while pointing the shotgun in their direction. They ducked, and Sparks discharged the shotgun as he passed.
Law enforcement officers from both the Springfield Police Department and the Greene County Sheriff's Office responded, and a lengthy pursuit ensued. Sparks crashed his vehicle (the stolen Ford Expedition) in a ditch to the side of I‑44, east of Highway 65, and abandoned it. He fled on foot, with officers in pursuit, through a business on East Mustard Way.
Sparks attempted to carjack two vehicles. He approached the driver of the first car and attempted to pull him from it while threatening him with a silver folding knife. The driver pushed Sparks back, and Sparks then ran toward another car. Sparks opened the driver‑side door and attempted to physically remove a woman from the driver=s seat. She grabbed onto the steering wheel and resisted being pulled from the car. The pursuing officers had by this time arrived, and Sparks was apprehended after a further brief foot chase and struggle.
Under federal law, anyone convicted of a felony is prohibited from possessing any firearm or ammunition. Sparks has two prior felony convictions for burglary, two prior felony convictions for stealing, and prior felony convictions for resisting arrest and passing a bad check.
Sparks was charged in Greene County, Mo. for the Dec. 23, 2009 incident, and subsequently was released on bond. While those charges were still pending, Sparks again fled from police in a stolen vehicle. On March 17, 2011, an officer of the Strafford Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop of a black 1995 Lexus, later determined to have been stolen, which was being driven by Sparks and occupied by one other person. Sparks attempted to elude the officer, and a vehicle pursuit ensued which traveled over several city streets. While in Strafford, Sparks drove through several stop signs and reached speeds of 85 miles per hour in 30‑m.p.h. zones, near which children were playing. The pursuit continued out of town on Farm Road 245, and continued onto Farm Road 104, then Farm Road 249. Just past the intersection of Farm Roads 249 and 116, Sparks drove through a barbed wire fence and crashed in a field. Sparks and his passenger fled on foot and Sparks was apprehended nearby.
Police officers found 28 counterfeit bills in Sparks’s possession (in $10, $20 and $50 denominations), totaling $550. During a search of the stolen Lexus, officers found a laptop computer, a computer printer/copier/scanner, $1,430 worth of counterfeit bills, both cut and uncut, four bleached genuine $5 bills, a plastic bag containing $1,800 in counterfeit bills. The total amount of counterfeit bills possessed by Sparks was $3,780.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff=s Office.