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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Ocala Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty To Multiple Federal Firearm Offenses

Ocala, FL – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Benjamin Townsel (23, Ocala) has pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and one count of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. He faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 20, 2022. Townsel had been indicted on July 21, 2021.

According to court documents, on three different occasions Townsel was found with a firearm after officers from the Ocala Police Department conducted traffic stops of vehicles in which Townsel was a passenger. DNA comparison analysis confirmed the presence of Townsel’s DNA on each of the firearms. The traffic stops occurred on August 7, 2020, December 3, 2020, and February 15, 2021, the latter two occurring after Townsel had been released from jail on bond on state charges. The firearm found during the first incident also had an obliterated serial number, in violation of federal law.

Townsel has four prior state felony convictions, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Therefore, he is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law.

This case was investigated by the Ocala Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tyrie Boyer.

This is another case prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program (PSN), which is a nationwide, crime reduction strategy aimed at decreasing violent crime in communities. It involves a comprehensive approach to public safety — one that includes investigating and prosecuting crimes, along with prevention and reentry efforts. In the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated February 22, 2022