FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY - April 14, 2010
AURORA MAN RECEIVES FEDERAL SENTENCE FOR WEAPONS CHARGE
NEW BERN - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court April 14, 2010, Chief United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced PAUL CLAUDIO, 44, of Aurora, North Carolina, to 105 months’ imprisonment followed by three years supervised release. After seeking an upward sentencing departure by the government based on CLAUDIO’s previous criminal history, the Court granted the enhancement.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on June 18, 2009. On December 4, 2009, a jury found CLAUDIO guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to evidence presented at trial, on June 29, 2008, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of domestic violence from CLAUDIO’s wife. CLAUDIO was placed in restraints until the residence could be secured. Noticing where the officers had placed him, CLAUDIO’s wife informed deputies of two firearms under the couch. The area was searched and deputies found a 12-gauge shotgun and a 410-gauge shotgun. One of the deputies then asked if there were any more readily accessible firearms in the house. CLAUDIO’s wife retrieved a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun from the bedroom and also informed the deputies of a safe in the house with more weapons. When CLAUDIO was unable to open the safe, a search warrant obtained. Inside the safe, officers found $9,400.00, seven additional firearms, a bag of chokes for 12-gauge shotguns, gun cases, various rifle magazines, and a clear plastic bag containing marijuana.
Further evidence presented at trial and during sentencing showed that CLAUDIO had used the firearms to threaten his family. CLAUDIO repeatedly threatened to kill his wife, his children, and himself. He would keep his 9 mm pistol nearby at all times, using it as an implicit threat and cocking the gun behind his wife regularly in an effort to terrify her and increase the credibility of his threats to kill. CLAUDIO also abused his wife regularly, including the night before the police located his firearms.
“When felons possess firearms, they are often using them to threaten or facilitate violence,” commented Mr. Holding. “It is important to have severe punishment for felons who violate the law by using their guns to terrorize others. This is particularly true where the guns are being used to terrorize the defendant’s own wife and small children.”
CLAUDIO has a previous felony conviction of extortion.
This case was part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods(PSN) which encourages federal, state, and local agencies to cooperate in a unified “team effort” against gun crime, targeting repeat offenders who continually plague their communities.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys David Bragdon and Kristine Fritz represented the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.