Three Felons Plead Guilty to Illegal Firearms Possession
FRESNO, Calif. — Three defendants pleaded guilty today in three separate cases to being a felon in possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, on March 19, 2016, Juan Gonzalez, 40, of Orosi, was driving a car and fled from officers who attempted to stop him for a traffic violation. He reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour before the officers cancelled the pursuit. During the chase, a deputy saw Gonzalez throw a dark object out of the window on Millerton Road near Lake View Estates. After the pursuit ended, the deputy returned to the location and found a Glock 27, .40‑caliber pistol. Gonzalez was stopped later that morning by Clovis police officers for failure to stop at a red light and arrested him for driving on a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also identified as the driver of the fleeing vehicle who tossed the gun. Gonzalez has prior felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing a firearm. (1:17‑cr‑031)
In the second case, court documents indicate that on May 4, 2016, Jerrett Newman, 27, of Fresno, possessed a Star Bonifacio Echeverria .22-caliber pistol he tossed while running from police. Newman has multiple prior felony convictions. (1:16‑cr‑086)
In the third case, court documents show that on May 2, 2017, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Apprehension Team encountered Rodney Heather, 36, of Fresno, who was wanted for a probation violation. When deputies approached Heather, they saw him reaching for his waistband and removing a black object and tossing it on the driver’s side floorboard. Despite warnings to show his hands, Heather reached down and appeared to push something under the seat. The deputies arrested Heather and found a Glock Model F 22, .40-caliber handgun under the seat. Heather has multiple prior felony convictions. (1:17‑cr‑117)
These cases are the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Apprehension Task Force, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the Clovis Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly A. Sanchez is prosecuting the cases.
The cases were brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an initiative that brings together federal, state and local law enforcement to combat gun and gang crime. At the core of PSN is increased federal prosecution to incapacitate chronic violent offenders as well as to communicate a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders.
Gonzalez and Newman are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on October 16, 2017. Heather is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on October 16, 2017. Each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.