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Justice News

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Felon Cannot Hide From Nearly Seven Years in Federal Prison for Third Conviction for Unlawfully Possessing a Gun

Discharged a Gun in a Residential Neighborhood and Tried to Hide From the Police in a Convenience Store Walk-In Freezer

A convicted felon who was twice previously convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm was sentenced November 14, 2019, to nearly seven years in federal prison following his third such conviction.

Jamaal Baker, age 41, from Waterloo, Iowa, received the prison term after a May 30, 2019 guilty plea to possessing a firearm as a felon.

At the guilty plea, Baker admitted he unlawfully possessed a handgun on January 23, 2019.  Evidence at sentencing established that Baker took a gun to his ex-wife’s house.  Baker and his ex-wife got into a heated argument.  During the argument, Baker told his ex-wife that he was going to kill her and then have the police kill him.  The ex-wife left the house along with minor children that were present.  As they were walking away from the house, Baker pulled the handgun out and at least one round was fired. 

Police responded to the house after a neighbor, who operated a daycare in her home, called 9-1-1.  After setting up a perimeter around the house, officers learned that Baker had fled the home and went to a local convenience store.  Officers found him in the store attempting to hide from them in a walk-in freezer.   

Baker has a long criminal history starting at age 17 while he was living in Chicago.  From age 18 through age 32, Baker was convicted of five drug offenses, two battery offenses, and aggravated vehicular hijacking for being part of an incident involving armed robbery, carjacking, and kidnapping.  He was also twice convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Baker was a member of the Gangster Disciples gang during this time. 

Baker was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Baker was sentenced to 81 months’ imprisonment.  He 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).  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.

Baker 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 Anthony Morfitt and investigated by a Federal Task Force composed of the Waterloo Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms assisted by the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office and Cedar Falls Police Department. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-cr-2023.

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Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated November 15, 2019