U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox to Target Domestic Abusers With Guns
U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox today announced a new initiative to fight domestic violence using federal firearm laws.
Federal law prohibits convicted domestic violence abusers, as well as those subject to certain protective orders, from possessing guns.
Working in tandem with state and local law enforcement partners, U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox pledged to prosecute domestic violence offenders discovered with guns.
“With so many domestic disputes escalating from bruises to bullets and bloodshed, we can and should play a part in ending this senseless violence,” she said. “We’re hopeful that highlighting this focus will send a message to convicted abusers: Not only can the Justice Department prosecute you for firearm possession, but in the Northern District of Texas, we will.”
Research shows that abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners than abusers who don’t have that same access to a gun. Dallas County alone sees an average of 15 intimate partner violence fatalities each year – and more than half of victims are killed by gunfire.
Federal prosecutors in the Northern District of Texas have already indicted several domestic violence offenders on various firearm charges:
- John Gabriel Mejia, Jr. was indicted for possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(8). Mr. Mejia, 25, was served with a protective order in 2018, after allegedly holding his girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter in his garage against their will. With the protective order in effect, he used a 9 mm Glock to threaten his girlfriend.
- Rolando Novell was indicted for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(9). In 2018, Mr. Novell, 33, pleaded guilty to several assaults, including striking his girlfriend and choking her in front of their infant child. Following his conviction in state court, he signed a statement claiming he did not and would not possess any guns. Authorities arrested him with three pistols two months later.
- James Otis Foley was indicted for felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1). Mr. Foley, also 33, was convicted with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in March 2011, after he beat his girlfriend, then followed her, brandishing a handgun, as she fled in her car. In 2016, he was again convicted of assault for slamming his girlfriend into a washing machine. Due to his felony convictions, he was not permitted to own guns. But following his release from prison, law enforcement, responding to a domestic dispute call, discovered him with a .45 caliber Glock.
If convicted, all three men face up to 10 years in federal prison. However, as usual, all three defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
“We are committed to supplementing the passionate efforts of our state and local partners to hold abusers accountable – and to deter them from taking aim at their partners in the first place,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox.