Ocala, Florida – Senior United States District Judge Wm. Terrell Hodges has sentenced Reginald Wardell Howard, Jr. (37, Ocala) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. A federal jury found him guilty of the offense on June 17, 2015.
According to evidence presented at trial, officers from the Ocala Police Department were called to a disturbance at a store on November 28, 2014. Officers were told that a man later identified as Howard was in the bathroom with a gun. Officers confronted Howard and a subsequent search revealed a loaded, 9mm handgun inside his left rear pocket. Howard stated that he had the firearm for protection. Witnesses reported that Howard had threatened them while displaying the pistol.
Prior to this incident, Howard had been convicted of numerous felony drug violations. As such, he qualified for an enhanced sentence as an Armed Career Criminal under federal law. At the time of this offense, Howard was under federal supervision and prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Ocala Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.
This is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy. United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Regina Lombardo, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.