Sumter County Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty To Federal Drug And Firearms Offenses
Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, announces that Thomas Franklin Dinkins, Jr. (25, Lake Panasoffkee) has pleaded guilty to possessing with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the drug offense and a consecutive sentence of at least 5 years, up to life, for the firearms offense. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, on December 16, 2014, deputies from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) stopped Dinkins for an expired tag. After a narcotics canine subsequently alerted on the car, deputies performed a search and found a locked, portable safe in the trunk. The key to the safe was in Dinkins’s jacket. Inside the safe, deputies found methamphetamine, two digital scales, plastic baggies, and a loaded .22 caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number. Deputies also located a backpack containing additional plastic bags and ammunition. A check of Dinkins’s criminal history revealed he was a multi-convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law. Dinkins later admitted that the firearm was “probably stolen” and that he had it to protect himself while distributing drugs.
On March 21, 2015, a discarded cellphone was discovered by a citizen and turned over to SCSO. After reviewing some of its contents, deputies determined that it had belonged to Dinkins. Multiple pictures and text messages found on the phone linked the recovered handgun, another shotgun, and numerous drug sales to Dinkins.
This case was investigated by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.