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Press Release

Waterloo Man Sentenced to More Than Nine Years in Prison For Possessing Sawed-Off Weapon

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Court found man engaged in “threatening and terrifying” conduct

A man who unlawfully possessed a sawed-off shotgun was sentenced on September 30, 2020, to nearly a decade in federal prison. 

Richard Jacobson, age 56, from Waterloo, Iowa, received the prison sentence after a guilty plea to unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun.  Statements at sentencing showed that Jacobson, while high on methamphetamine, repeatedly racked or cocked the weapon while threatening to shoot at least one other person.  The judge who sentenced Jacobson, United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams, characterized Jacobson’s conduct as both “threatening and terrifying.”  The judge also noted that Jacobson had a “remarkably high number of adult felony convictions.”

Jacobson has previously been convicted of fourteen felony offenses.  Those include multiple convictions for burglary and other violent crimes.  He also has multiple prior convictions related to unlawfully possessing dangerous weapons.        

Jacobson was sentenced to 115 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

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jacob Schunk 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-2068.

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Updated October 2, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses