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Justice News

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Waterloo Sex Offender Sentenced to Eight Years in Federal Prison for Possessing a Sawed Off Shotgun

Led Law Enforcement on a High Speed Car Chase through Waterloo – Eventually Captured after Clotheslining Himself While Running Away

A Waterloo sex offender who possessed a sawed-off shotgun during a high-speed car chase in May 2018 was sentenced May 13, 2019, to eight years in federal prison. 

Nicholas Allen Gilstrap, age 27, from Waterloo, received the prison term after an October 18, 2018, guilty plea to one count of possession of an unregistered national firearms act device.

Evidence at sentencing showed that, in the early morning hours of May 4, 2018, Gilstrap was driving a SUV in Waterloo, Iowa.  Gilstrap was a fugitive, and his driver’s license was suspended.  When officers spotted him, Gilstrap led the officers on a high-speed chase through the streets of Waterloo.  The chase ended when Gilstrap crashed the SUV into a garage, severely damaging the garage, a car in the garage, and the SUV.  Gilstrap ran from the scene.  In the SUV, officers found a sawed-off shotgun, trazodone hydrochloride pills, and multiple debit cards belonging to other people.  The sawed-off shotgun was loaded and had a slug in the chamber.

On May 10, 2018, officers arrested Gilstrap at a house in Waterloo.  When officers knocked at the front door, Gilstrap tried to elude them by running out the back door.  However, as Gilstrap tried to flee, he ran into a clothesline, splitting the bridge of his nose, and hastening his capture.  Gilstrap is a sex offender with an extensive criminal history, including convictions for OWI, burglary, public intoxication, and failure to comply with sex offender registry requirements.

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.

Gilstrap was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Gilstrap was sentenced to 96 months’ imprisonment.  He was ordered to pay $32,540.44 in restitution to the owner of the garage, the owner of the SUV, and an insurance company that covered some of damages.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Gilstrap 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 Waterloo Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 18-CR-2051.

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Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated May 14, 2019