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Press Release

Algona Man Found Passed Out with Loaded Weapons Sentenced to Federal Prison for Gun Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Murphy was a convicted felon, a drug user, and had a misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse when found in possession of an AR-15-style rifle and another gun.

A man who illegally possessed stolen and loaded guns was sentenced on July 30, 2020 to more than five years in federal prison.          

James Patrick Murphy, age 38, from Algona, Iowa, received the prison term after a February 26, 2020, guilty plea to two counts of being a felon, drug user, and domestic abuse misdemeanant in possession of a firearm, and one count of possession of a stolen firearm. 

Evidence presented by the United States at the detention, change of plea, and sentencing, hearings revealed Murphy was a felon, recidivist domestic abuser, and drug user.  Each of these three facts precluded Murphy from lawfully possessing guns.  Murphy’s unlawful possession was discovered when law enforcement received a report of a person who appeared to be sleeping behind the steering wheel of his pickup truck.  Law enforcement arrived at the reported location in Algona, Iowa, and recognized the person as Murphy.  As law enforcement approached the pickup, they observed an AR-15-style rifle and a semiautomatic pistol on the seat next to the defendant.  Murphy was removed from the pickup.  Items seized from defendant’s truck included the AR-15 rifle with a fully loaded 20 round magazine, a scope, a Taurus pistol with a fully loaded magazine and a round in the chamber, a small baggie of methamphetamine, a pouch containing a cellophane wrapper with four small pills and four guitar picks, a United States passport for the defendant, and a cellphone. Subsequent investigations revealed that the guns were stolen. 

Murphy was sentenced in Sioux City by United Stats Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Murphy was sentenced to 64 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is  no parole in the federal system.

Murphy is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.      

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. The United States Attorney’s Office has prosecuted this case with support from its Project Guardian partners.  For more information about Project Guardian, please see /media/1122011/download?inline.       

The case was investigated by the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Kossuth County Sheriff’s Office and Algona, Iowa Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-3042.

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Updated August 25, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses