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Press Release

Dubuquer Sentenced to Over Three Years in Federal Prison for Possessing Sawed-Off Shotgun

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Also Possessed Pistol with an Obliterated Serial Number

A Dubuque man who possessed a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol with an obliterated serial number was sentenced yesterday to more than three years in federal prison.  Neil George Ness, also known as Neelon Ness, 66, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after a September 7, 2018 guilty plea to one count of Possession of an Unregistered Short-Barreled Shotgun.

At Ness’s sentencing hearing, the district court found that, in August 2016, Dubuque Police Department officers executed a search warrant at Ness’s home in Dubuque after receiving information that another person was selling marijuana from the home.  In the other person’s room, officers found three pounds of marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, cocaine, and marijuana growing equipment.  During the search, the officers also examined a locked cabinet in defendant’s bedroom.  In the cabinet, officers found a number of firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun with a barrel length of approximately 14.5 inches.  The firearm was not registered to Ness in the National Firearm Registration and Transfer record, and thus Ness’s possession of the firearm was illegal. Officers also found a pistol with an obliterated serial number.  Ness admitted he knowingly possessed both illegal firearms.

Ness was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.  Ness was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment and fined $2,500.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Ness was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date yet to be set.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Dubuque Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 18-CR-1024.

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Updated March 29, 2019

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