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Press Release

Meth User and Dealer Sentenced to Over a Year in Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing a Gun

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Daily Meth User Possessed a Rifle That Had Previously Been Reported Stolen

An Ely woman who was a daily user of methamphetamine and possessed a gun was sentenced on February 22, 2019, to 16 months in federal prison. 

Melissa Kurth, age 38, from Ely, Iowa, received the prison term after a September 19, 2018 guilty plea to one count of being an unlawful user of methamphetamine in possession of a firearm. 

Kurth was driving a car in Cedar Rapids on January 26, 2018, when she was stopped by officers from the Cedar Rapids Police Department for a traffic violation.  During the stop, officers found a Savage Arms rifle and a BB gun in the trunk of the car.  The rifle had previously been reported stolen.  Officers also located drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine residue in the vehicle.  Kurth admitted she was a daily user of methamphetamine and that she also sold up to an ounce of methamphetamine daily in the Cedar Rapids area. 

In sentencing Kurth, the judge noted she had a lengthy criminal history which included over 20 criminal convictions.  Kurth has prior convictions for driving offenses, thefts, OWI, and attempted burglary. 

Kurth was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Kurth was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment, with the final 3 months to be served in a residential facility.  She 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.

Kurth is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until she can be transported to federal prison.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Corkery and investigated by the investigated by the Cedar Rapids Safe Streets Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The task force is composed of representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cedar Rapids Police Department.   

Court file information at

The case file number is 18-CR-00056.  Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated February 27, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods