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Justice News

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

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Holy Cross Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unlawfully Possessing Guns

Possessed Multiple Guns and Methamphetamine

A convicted felon who unlawfully possessed a firearm was sentenced today to a year in federal prison.

Brett John Schmerbach, age 44, from Holy Cross, Iowa, received the prison term after a September 24, 2017, guilty plea to possession of a firearm by a felon.  At the guilty plea, Schmerbach admitted that on December 30, 2016, he possessed three guns: (1) a Browning, BPS Micro Midas, 20 gauge shotgun; (2) a Remington Arms Company, 870 Express Magnum, 12 gauge shotgun; and (3) a Henry Repeating Rifle Company, H004, Golden Boy, .22 caliber rifle.  At the time he possessed the guns, Schmerbach had twice been convicted felony operating while intoxicated offenses.  The guns were found at Schmerbach’s residence while police were searching the residence pursuant to a search warrant.  Besides the guns, officers also found methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, and ammunition.

Schmerbach was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.  Schmerbach was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and fined $5,500.  A special assessment of $100 was imposed.  He must also serve a 3-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.

Schmerbach is being held in United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison. Schmerbach was originally released on supervised release following his indictment, but was later detained due to his failure to follow the conditions of his release set by the District Court.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Nydle and investigated by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 17-cr-02059.

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Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated February 28, 2018