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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sumter County Convicted Felon Sentenced To More Than Six Years In Prison On Federal Drug and Firearm Offenses

Ocala, Florida – Senior United States District Judge Wm. Terrell Hodges today sentenced Thomas Franklin Dinkins, Jr. (27, Lake Panasoffkee) to six years and nine months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He was also ordered to forfeit a handgun and 31 rounds of ammunition as a part of his sentence. Dinkins pleaded guilty to the charges on February 2, 2016.

According to the plea agreement, deputies from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office stopped Dinkins for an expired tag on December 16, 2014. When a narcotics canine subsequently alerted on Dinkins’s car, deputies searched it 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, numerous plastic baggies, and a loaded .22 caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number. A nearby backpack held additional plastic bags and ammunition. A criminal history check showed Dinkins to be a multi-convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law. Dinkins ultimately admitted that the firearm was “probably stolen” and that he had it to protect himself while distributing drugs.  

On March 21, 2015, a discarded cellular telephone was discovered by a citizen and turned over to authorities. Deputies examined the phone and determined that it belonged to Dinkins. An examination of the phone revealed multiple pictures and text messages linking Dinkins to the recovered handgun, another shotgun, and numerous drug sales. 

This case was investigated by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

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Updated April 22, 2016