Career Criminal Facing At Least 20 Years In Prison On Federal Firearm Charges
Ocala, Florida - Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Ellis Michael Cook (37, Gainesville) pleaded guilty today to two counts of possessing a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person (convicted felon - armed career criminal) and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Cook faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, up to a maximum penalty of life in federal prison for the offenses. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the facts presented in the change of plea hearing, on January 30, 2013, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a deputy with the Marion County Sheriff's Office observed Cook driving a stolen motorcycle in the parking lot of an Ocala convenience store. When confronted about the stolen motorcycle, Cook ran from the deputy and discarded a backpack that had been in his possession. After being apprehended by the deputy, Cook warned the deputy that there was a firearm in the backpack. A subsequent search of Cook's backpack revealed a loaded .45 caliber pistol, assorted ammunition, 42.9 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Cook has an extensive criminal record that includes prior convictions for burglary, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and trafficking in cocaine. As such, Cook qualifies for enhanced federal penalties as both an Armed Career Criminal and Career Offender.
This case was investigated by the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.