U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
November 23, 2010
CONVICTED FELON SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS IN PRISON ON FIREARM CHARGE
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Providence man was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison, having been convicted by a U.S. District Court jury of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Dwight Paneto, 32, was convicted in June following two days of testimony.
The sentence, which was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith, was announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.
At trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard W. Rose and Richard B. Myrus presented evidence that in August 2009, a Providence Police detective encountered a man who offered to assist the detective in making a drug purchase. Once in the officer’s car, the man directed the officer to a Providence address. After arriving at the house, the officer gave the man a pre-marked twenty dollar bill which he then took inside and used to purchase a $20 rock of cocaine base. The detective waited in his car while the transaction took place.
After the purchase was made, and the man had left the apartment, detectives went inside the house, knocked on the apartment door and were allowed inside by Paneto. Inside the apartment the detective informed Paneto of the undercover drug purchase and observed the pre-marked twenty dollar bill on a coffee table.
Paneto, claiming the twenty dollar bill was not his and agreed to allow officers to search the apartment. Detectives located two additional bags containing cocaine base similar to the bag that had been purchased earlier. Paneto also directed detectives to a locked safe he indicated contained a gun and provided the officers with the combination. Detectives discovered a 9mm Beretta pistol inside the safe.
Paneto, who has an extensive criminal history, was convicted by the jury of one count of a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury acquitted Paneto of one count of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base.
The matter was investigated by Providence Police and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.