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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Minneapolis Felon Pleads Guilty To Possessing A Nine-millimeter Pistol

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 59-year-old Minneapolis felon pleaded guilty to possessing a nine-millimeter pistol. Robert Lee Powers pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession. Powers, who was indicted on April 22, 2013, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

In his plea agreement, Powers admitted that on March 18, 2013, during the execution of a state search warrant of his residence, police recovered a nine-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol and approximately five grams 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. Judge Nelson will determine Powers’s sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Hollenhorst.

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 two dozen serious habitual criminals through Project Exile Minneapolis.



Updated April 30, 2015