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Press Release

Waterloo Felon Sentenced to More Than Seven Years in Federal Prison for Possessing a Loaded .357 Magnum in a Car

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Arrested for Possessing a Firearm in a Car Twice Within Four Months in 2018

A Waterloo felon who was found with a gun in a car just four months after he was arrested for possessing a different gun in a car was sentenced today to more than seven years in federal prison.

Columbus Tre Lawrence, age 27, from Waterloo, Iowa, received the prison term after a December 4, 2019 guilty plea to one count of possessing a firearm as a prohibited person.

At the guilty plea and sentencing hearings, Lawrence admitted that, on August 28, 2018, he possessed a loaded .357 magnum caliber pistol while a passenger in a car.  Lawrence is a felon and has been prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition for many years.

At the time of his arrest in August 2018, Lawrence was on pretrial release in state court on pending firearms-related charges.  In April 2018, Lawrence was found in a car with a handgun, arrested, and released pending trial.  That handgun had an obliterated serial number.  Lawrence later pled guilty in state court to possessing the firearm in April 2018, and then he was indicted in federal court for the possessing a firearm in August 2018.

Lawrence was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Lawrence was sentenced to 85 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.

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.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.  For more information about Project Guardian, please see /media/1122011/download?inline.

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

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Waterloo Police Department. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-CR-2058.

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Updated May 11, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses