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Justice News

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Possessing a Gun in Dubuque

Evidence Showed that Unlawful User of Cocaine and Marijuana Fired Nine Shots from a Handgun at an Occupied Building

An unlawful user of cocaine and marijuana who possessed a loaded handgun and shot at a building in Dubuque, Iowa, pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Ricardo Sanchez, age 32, from for Forest City, Illinois, was convicted of one count of possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of controlled substances.

At the plea hearing, Sanchez admitted that he was in Dubuque on November 27, 2017.  He further admitted that he possessed a 9mm pistol and at least

9 rounds of ammunition.  Sanchez was an unlawful user of both cocaine and marijuana.

Evidence at a prior detention hearing showed that in the early morning hours of November 27, 2017, Sanchez arrived at a club in downtown Dubuque.  After entering the club, Sanchez got into an argument with the club owner.  He then left the club and returned to his vehicle.  Sanchez is then seen on traffic camera video retrieving something from his vehicle.  He then returned to outside the club, which was occupied, and fired a handgun towards the building multiple times.  Police later recovered 9 spent 9mm shell casings from the area of the shooting.  After firing the handgun, Sanchez returned to his vehicle and drove from Dubuque into Illinois.  He was arrested later on November 27 in Galena, Illinois.  Police recovered the 9mm pistol from along the road outside of Galena.

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.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Sanchez remains in custody of the United States Marshal.  Sanchez faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tony Morfitt and was investigated by the Dubuque Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Galena Police Department, and the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 18-CR-1003.

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Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated May 15, 2018