Convicted Felon Caught Hunting on National Park Service Land Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearm Charge
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MICHAEL A. PETRO, 44, of Watertown, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on the morning of December 10, 2015, a law enforcement officer was patrolling part of the Appalachian Trail in Kent, Conn. Posted signs in the area state that the land is National Parks Service property and is closed to hunting. The officer observed PETRO in camouflage gear holding a Savage Arms/Stevens Model 311, 12 gauge shotgun, which was breached open and unloaded. After the officer asked PETRO where the shotgun shells were and PETRO denied having any, the officer and her canine located two 12 gauge shotgun shells under fallen leaves approximately 20 yards away from where PETRO was standing. A subsequent search of PETRO’s jacket revealed two additional shotgun shells.
PETRO’s criminal history includes a felony conviction for assault. It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.
PETRO is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on September 14, 2016, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
PETRO is in state custody on unrelated charges.
This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Conservation Police of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen.