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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ocala Career Offender Sentenced To More Than 21 Years In Prison For Firearms Crimes

Ocala, Florida - Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges sentenced Joseph Jerome Smith (32, Ocala) yesterday to 21 years and ten months in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Smith pleaded guilty on February 14, 2013.

According to court documents, on May 21, 2012, the Marion County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at Smith's Ocala residence and found him to be in possession of a distribution amount of cocaine, drug trafficking equipment, and multiple loaded firearms, including two 9 mm pistols. Following this incident, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Smith. On September 18, 2012, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested Smith as he was seated in a vehicle at an Ocala convenience store parking lot. At the time of his arrest, Smith was in possession of another loaded 9 mm pistol with an obliterated serial number.

Smith has multiple prior felony convictions and was therefore prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law. At his sentencing, Smith was found to be a career offender under the federal sentencing guidelines.

This case was investigated by the ATF, with assistance from the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Marshals Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew C. Searle.

It 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 Robert E. O'Neill, along with Julie Torres, 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.

Updated January 26, 2015