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Press Release

Dubuque Man with Violent History Sentenced to Federal Prison for Possessing Stolen Gun

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

A Dubuque man was sentenced on April 16, 2021 to 78 months in prison for unlawfully possessing a stolen gun.

Christopher Nicholas Roth, age 39, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison sentence after a November 5, 2020 guilty plea to possession a firearm by a prohibited person. 

Information disclosed at sentencing and at his plea hearing showed that, in April 2020, Roth became upset with a group of people and threatened at least one of them, causing the police to be called.  When officers located Roth later, he was in possession of a loaded gun, which he had recently stolen from someone he knew.  Roth admitted he was a user of methamphetamine and marijuana.  Roth has 27 adult criminal convictions, including convictions for theft, attempted burglary, harassment, domestic abuse, and OWI.  Fourteen of Roth’s prior convictions were committed while he was on probation for another offense.  Seven of Roth’s prior convictions include physical violence or threatening others. 

Roth was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Roth was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment.  He was ordered to make payment of $100 to the special assessment fund.  He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Alex Geocaris and investigated by the Dubuque Police Department, the Dubuque Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

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. For more information about Project Guardian, please see /media/1122011/download?inline.

Court file information at

The case file number is 20-CR-1014.

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Updated April 19, 2021

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses