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Press Release

Pinellas County Men Sentenced In A joint Federal And State Weapons And Drug Investigation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Joseph E. Thornton (34, of Largo) to 15 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thornton pleaded guilty on June 27, 2013. 

According to court documents, Thornton made a series of gun and cocaine sales to an undercover officer, including selling cocaine and a .40 caliber Hi-Point pistol and ammunition to an officer on January 8, 2013.  Following the purchase, law enforcement learned that the pistol had been reported stolen on December 17, 2012, following a residential burglary.

Additionally, two other individuals were separately charged and sentenced federally, as a result of the same joint federal and state investigation. On September 23, 2013, U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington sentenced Anthony Maurice McSwain (28, Pinellas County) to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with a gun sale to an undercover officer on November 16, 2012.  On November 4, 2013, U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore sentenced Jarvis Antwan Dorsey (22, Pinellas County) to 5 years and 6 months in federal prison for the same offense, in connection with the sale of a gun to an undercover officer on January 15, 2013.

These cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), the Largo Police Department, and the Clearwater Police Department.  The cases arose from a joint federal and state investigation resulting in 28 people being arrested on state and federal violations, and the seizure of 13 firearms, as well as quantities of cocaine, marijuana, hydrocodone and other narcotics.  The federal cases arising from the investigation were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark E. Bini.

This investigation is part of ATF’s Frontline strategy to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life in communities where law enforcement efforts are focused.

Updated January 26, 2015