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Press Release

Drug User Who Possessed Sawed-Off Shotgun Sent to Prison for Violating Probation

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

A Cedar Rapids man who was sentenced to three years of probation on November 10, 2016, for possession of a sawed off shotgun and being an unlawful user of drugs in possession of a firearm, was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison today for violating his probation.

Mario Jerel Harper, age 41, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a probation revocation hearing.  Evidence at the hearing showed that Harper used controlled substances on a number of occasions, failed to tell the truth to his probation officer, and refused to participate in drug testing.

At Harper’s guilty plea in 2016, he admitted he was an unlawful user of marijuana and that he had a sawed-off shotgun that was not registered to him in accordance with federal law. 

Harper was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.  Harper was sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment, and must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.   In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

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

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Reinert and investigated by the Cedar Rapids Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Harper was under supervision by the Northern District of Iowa United States Probation Office in Cedar Rapids. 

Court file information at

The case file number is CR 16-00040-LRR.

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Updated September 20, 2018

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods