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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spencer Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Drug User

Defendant fired four shots while in his residence, and under the influence of methamphetamine and other drugs.

A former Federal Firearms Licensee who unlawfully discharged a loaded firearm while under the influence of eight different controlled substances was sentenced, April 25, 2018, to more than three years in federal prison.

Shane Zellaha, 57, from Spencer, Iowa, received the prison term after an August 30, 2017, guilty plea to one count of being an unlawful user of controlled substances in possession of a firearm.

The government presented evidence that on January 26, 2017, Zellaha discharged a loaded firearm while under the influence of methamphetamine, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, opiates, oxycodone, and benzodiazepines.  Weeks later, Zellaha violated his state pretrial release by possessing an additional three firearms, ammunition, a baggie containing methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia.  After being indicted federally, Zellaha was released despite the government’s objection. He violated his pretrial release by failing to remove contraband from his residence, providing a diluted urine sample, skipping a urinalysis examination, skipping a substance abuse evaluation, and failing to abide by radio frequency monitoring.  At the time of his arrest on the pretrial violations, United States Marshals Service deputies seized 2,400 rounds of ammunition from Zellaha’s possession.

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.

Zellaha was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett.  Zellaha was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ajay J. Alexander and investigated by the Spencer Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 17-CR-4013-MWB.

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated April 26, 2018