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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 6, 2022

Man Previously Convicted of Second-Degree Murder Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Unlawful Gun Possession

Convicted in Linn County, Iowa, in July 2021 for Murder of Chris Bagley

A man who was previously convicted of second-degree murder in state court pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids to unlawfully possessing a gun and ammunition.

Johnny Blahnik Church, f/k/a Drew Alan Blahnik, age 35, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was convicted of one count of possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of methamphetamine and cocaine.

At the plea hearing, Blahnik admitted that, in February 2019, he possessed a Glock .40 caliber handgun and multiple rounds of .40 caliber ammunition.  Blahnik also admitted that at the time he possessed this gun and ammunition, he was prohibited from doing so because he was a knowing user of both cocaine and methamphetamine. 

In July 2021, Blahnik was convicted after a trial in the Iowa District Court for Linn County of second-degree murder, obstruction of justice, and abuse of a corpse related to the December 2018 death of Chris Bagley.  In December 2021, Blahnik was sentenced to 57 years in Iowa state prison as a result of these convictions.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Blahnik remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.  Blahnik faces a possible maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Morfitt and was investigated by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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.

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.  The case file number is 19-CR-30.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated June 6, 2022