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Press Release

Minneapolis Felon Indicted For Possessing A Nine-millimeter Pistol As Well As Heroin

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

MINNEAPOLIS—Recently in federal court, a 59-year-old Minneapolis felon was indicted for possessing a nine-millimeter pistol as well as heroin. On April 22, 2013, Robert Lee Powers was specifically charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin. Earlier today, Powers had his initial appearance in federal court.

The indictment alleges that on March 18, 2013, Powers possessed the pistol as well as a detectable amount of heroin. Because he is a felon, he is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm at any time. He was previously convicted in Hennepin County for third-degree sale of crack cocaine (1989), offering a forged check (1992), fourth-degree sale of crack cocaine (1992), attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct (1992), a third-degree controlled substance crime (2000), an attempted fifth-degree controlled substance crime (2004 and 2005), a fifth-degree controlled substance crime (2008 and 2009), and theft of a motor vehicle (2009). In addition, Powers was convicted in Washington County for conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime (1996) and being a predatory offender providing false information (2005).

Because at least three of these convictions constituted violent crimes or major drug crimes, Powers is subject to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. That act mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison for anyone subsequently convicted under federal law for being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition. In addition, Powers faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin. Any sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The case was charged federally through Project Exile Minneapolis. That law enforcement initiative was launched on July 22, 2010, as part of a city-wide effort to reduce gun violence. Through Project Exile, the Minneapolis Police Department and the ATF work together to apprehend serial criminals for violations of gun laws. Then, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office teams up with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine where those offenders will most effectively be prosecuted – state or federal court. Those determinations are based on the offenders’ criminal histories and current charges, among other factors. To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has brought charges against more than a dozen serious habitual criminals through Project Exile Minneapolis.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.



Updated April 30, 2015