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REPEAT OFFENDER SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 12 YEARS IN PRISON FOR POSSESSION OF STOLEN FIREARMS
Seattle Man Led Police on High Speed Chase – Stole Patrol Car in Attempt to Flee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2007

CHRISTOPHER URGA, 36, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 147 months in prison for two counts of Possession of a Stolen Firearm. URGA has a lengthy criminal history in both the sheer number of crimes and in the number of crimes that have been violent. In imposing the lengthy sentence, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik urged him to seek counseling saying, “Something drives you to do things that regular people don’t do. Who in their right mind jumps in a police car and speeds away after being stopped in a high speed chase?”

According to court records, in the early morning hours of February 1, 2005, a Mercer Island police officer noticed an SUV driving recklessly. The officer attempted to pull over the SUV, which had been reported stolen, but it sped onto Interstate 90 headed towards Seattle. After speeding through the Mount Baker Tunnel, the SUV got off the freeway, and then sped back on, breaking through wooden barriers and driving eastbound in the westbound HOV lanes. Inside the tunnel a second time, the SUV stopped and the driver, later identified as URGA, and a passenger tried to run from police. A Mercer Island police officer jumped from his car and was able to tackle the passenger. While that officer was struggling with the passenger, URGA jumped in the officer’s patrol car, backed the patrol car into another police vehicle and drove away. The passenger was able to get free from the Mercer Island police officer, and jumped into the patrol car as it headed east in the westbound lanes. Police shot out two tires of the fleeing patrol car. When the patrol car got off of the freeway on Mercer Island, it crashed into a curb. The passenger was shot and wounded as he ran from police. URGA got away by stealing another car. The wounded passenger identified URGA as the driver of the stolen SUV. Inside the SUV officers found a stolen .38 caliber revolver, as well as items taken in burglaries on Mercer Island. URGA was interviewed at his work release program and later arrested.

URGA has numerous prior convictions for assault, auto theft, drug crimes, attempted burglary and eluding police. He pleaded guilty to two counts of Possession of a Stolen Firearm on March 22, 2007.

URGA was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled by President George W. Bush in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local
level -- in this case in King County -- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Bellevue Police Department, Seattle Police Department, and the Mercer Island Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Friedman and Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Colasurdo. Mr. Colasurdo is a Deputy King County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute gun crimes in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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