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Press Release

Felon Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing Firearm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska
While in Stolen Vehicle, Defendant Shot at Pursuing Police Cruiser with Sawed-Off Shotgun

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that an Anchorage man has been sentenced to federal prison for illegally possessing a firearm during a high speed pursuit in a stolen vehicle during which he fired shots from a sawed-off shotgun.  

Tony Tuaato, 25, of Anchorage, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason to serve 110 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  In February 2019, Tuaato pleaded guilty to one count of felon in possession of a firearm.  Tuaato has a previous felony conviction in California for unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle.  As someone convicted of a felony offense, Tuaato was prohibited from possessing firearms. 

According to court documents, on Sept. 21, 2017, Tuaato was at a residence in Mountain View when Alex Lemana and another passenger arrived in a stolen white Chevrolet Suburban.  Knowing that police were in the area, Tuaato and others decided to move the stolen Suburban away from the residence.  Tuaato got into the front passenger seat, Lemana was driving, and a third passenger was in the back seat.  Tuaato brought an illegal sawed-off shotgun with him and Lemana brought a pistol.  

As they were leaving the area, an APD patrol vehicle started to pursue them, which led to a high-speed chase.  During the pursuit, the Suburban rammed one of the patrol cars, deploying the officer’s air bag and causing both vehicles to come to a stop.  Lemana was able to continue driving the damaged Suburban, reaching 80 mph through Mountain View, while he and Tuaato fired shots at pursuing police.  Tuaato, Lemana, and the third passenger abandoned the Suburban near 9th and L Street downtown and ran.  Lemana and the third passenger were caught nearby and taken into custody, however Tuaato continued to flee and avoided apprehension.  At the time, officers did not know Tuaato’s identity. 

Tuuato’s sawed-off shotgun was found on the floor of the front passenger side of the vehicle with a spent casing nearby.  Subsequent investigation revealed that a palm print on the sawed-off shotgun belonged to him. 

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Gleason observed that Tuaato’s crime put the community at serious risk, although Tuaato had not acknowledged that risk to date.  The Court noted that Tuaato had a history with stolen vehicles, firearms, and methamphetamine, which are a dangerous combination warranting deterrence.    

The Anchorage Police Department (APD) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of this case.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward.

Updated June 20, 2019

Firearms Offenses