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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cedar Rapids Man Sentenced For Unlawful Possession Of A Firearm And Ammunition

A former member of the military who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq was sentenced in federal court today to serve a five year term of probation.

Matthew James Stover, 31, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the sentence after pleading guilty on November 14, 2013, to one count of possessing a semi-automatic assault rifle and ammunition as an unlawful drug user.

In a plea agreement, Stover admitted he possessed an AR-15 assault rifle, a magazine containing 59 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition, another magazine for the weapon, and about 600 additional rounds of .223 caliber ammunition on August 15, 2013, when a State of Iowa search warrant was executed at his residence. The warrant was executed after Marion, Iowa, Police officers encountered Stover after he purchased marijuana in a park in Marion.

Stover was sentenced on August 24, 2014, in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade. Stover was sentenced to serve a 5 year term of probation with special conditions requiring continued mental health treatment, abstinence from the use of alcohol or drugs, remote alcohol testing, and not being permitted in the unsupervised presence of a child under the age of 12, including his minor daughter.  The sentence represented a downward departure from the advisory federal sentencing guidelines range of 30-37 months imprisonment.

At the sentencing hearing begun August 14, and concluded on August 24, Judge Reade noted Stover has been diagnosed as suffering from several mental health conditions, including PTSD, that predated and post-dated his military service.  Further, while Stover has performed well under pre-trial treatment and supervision, Judge Reade noted he had a history of non-compliance with drug and mental health treatment, as well as a history of violence. Reade noted Stover had previously assaulted his wife and choked his stepson, and in March 2012 caused an injury to his infant daughter that resulted in her skull being crushed.

The court also noted that Stover had made statements, in the months prior to his arrest, indicating he wanted to go back to Afghanistan to kill and engage in radical jihad.  These statements raised concerns with family members as well as local and federal law enforcement officers.

In imposing the sentence, the court noted this was not a “run of the mill case” and indicated it was reluctant to interfere with defendant’s mental health treatment that he has been receiving from the VA for about the past year. Further, defendant had an opportunity for employment with the VA and has been fully compliant with the conditions of treatment for the past year. In light of this, the court placed defendant on probation and imposed several conditions of probation intend to minimize defendant’s risk to the community. The court cautioned Stover that should he violate his conditions of probation, he would likely be sentenced to serve at least 30 months, and as much as 120 months, in federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard L. Murphy and investigated by the Marion, Iowa, Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.  The case file number is 13-CR-68-LRR.

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Updated February 19, 2015