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Press Release

Monmouth Man Sentenced to More than Three Years in Federal Prison for Possessing Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Had prior federal felony conviction for possessing firearms as an unlawful drug user

A man who possessed firearms as a prohibited person was sentenced today to more than three years in federal prison.

John Lee Ralston, age 55, from Monmouth, Iowa, received the prison term after a May 18, 2022 guilty plea of possessing firearms as a prohibited person.  

Evidence at the sentencing hearing showed that on January 15, 2021, law enforcement officers searched Ralston’s home and discovered two firearms in his bedroom and drug paraphernalia throughout his house.  That same day, Ralston gave a urine sample that tested positive for controlled substances, including methamphetamine.  Ralston has a prior federal felony offense for possessing firearms as an unlawful drug user.  Ralston has four other felony convictions and one serious misdemeanor conviction for domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury.

Ralston was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Ralston was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment, and he must serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

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

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent

violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Devra T. Hake and Assistant United States Attorney Emily Nydle and investigated by the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, Cedar County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, and officers with the Jones County Emergency Response Team. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 21-CR-76.

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Updated October 25, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses