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Justice News

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

St. Paul Career Criminal Sentenced For Possessing A Sawed-off Shotgun

MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court in St. Paul, a 31-year-old career criminal from St. Paul was sentenced for possessing a 20-gauge sawed-off shotgun. On May 7, 2013, United States District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson sentenced Michael Allen Smith to 180 months in prison on one count of being a career criminal in possession of a firearm and one count of possession of an unregistered firearm. Smith was indicted on July 17, 2012, and was convicted on December 14, 2012.

The evidence presented at Smith’s three-day trial proved that on April 28, 2012, he possessed an unregistered 20-gauge shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches. Because he is a felon, Smith is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms at any time. He was previously convicted of assault in the fourth degree in Washington County in both 2005 and 2006 and murder in the third degree in Ramsey County in 2001.

Since Smith’s prior offenses constitute crimes of violence, sentencing in the current federal case was subject to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. That act mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison for anyone convicted in federal court of being a felon in possession of a firearm if that person also has at least three prior state or federal convictions for crimes of violence or serious drug crimes. Because the federal criminal justice system does not have parole, Smith will serve virtually the entire sentence imposed in this case behind bars.

This case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Minneapolis Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Newberry.

The case was charged under 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. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office then 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 almost two dozen serious habitual criminals through Project Exile Minneapolis.



Updated April 30, 2015