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Press Release

Illegal Drug User In Possession of a Gun Sentenced to Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Cook fired the gun while in a hotel room.

Rodney Cook, age 40, of Starke, Florida, received the prison term after an August 24, 2020 guilty plea and sentencing on one count of possession of a firearm by an illegal drug user.

Information disclosed during the change of plea and sentencing hearings revealed that on May 5, 2019, law enforcement was dispatched to the Park Motel in Denison, Iowa, in response to reports that a man had fired a gun from inside his room into the parking lot on the south side of the motel.  When police responded they did not see the shooter but noticed that the door to a particular hotel room was open and the window had been broken out.  As law enforcement approached that room, they observed Cook standing in his hotel room reloading a revolver.  Cook told one officer he had used methamphetamine earlier and there was meth in the room.  Cook told another officer he had fired the revolver in an attempt to scare some people away.  A subsequent search of his room revealed methamphetamine and a second handgun.  Cook has twice before been convicted of misdemeanor violence, including an assault and battery on a law enforcement officer. 

Cook was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Cook was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

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

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.

The case was investigated by the Denison, Iowa Police Department and the Tri-State Drug Task Force based in Sioux City, Iowa (that consists of law enforcement personnel from the Drug Enforcement Administration; Sioux City, Iowa, Police Department; Homeland Security Investigations; Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office; South Sioux City, Nebraska, Police Department; Nebraska State Patrol; Iowa National Guard; Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement United States Marshals Service; South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation), and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-CR-4070.

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Updated September 4, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses