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Press Release

Passaic County Man Charged with Being Felon in Possession of Ammunition

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man was charged today with being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Justin Pope, 36, of Clifton, New Jersey, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition. He was arrested on July 13, 2023, and was charged by complaint with the same two counts. Pope appeared before U.S. Magistrate James B. Clark III on the complaint earlier this week and was detained without bail.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On July 12, 2023, law enforcement officers responded to a report of shots fired in a public parking lot in Clifton, New Jersey. A review of the surveillance footage from the area showed Pope and a female individual engaged in an altercation while inside of a vehicle. As the female individual exited the vehicle, Pope pointed a handgun and fired multiple shots at the victim at close range. 

The following day law enforcement reviewed a video on a social media account depicting Pope firing a gun in the air in which he stated, “Can’t find me . . . Police. Y’all never gonna find me.”

Pope was arrested a few hours later after he attempted to board a bus in New York City and brandished a firearm to bus employees. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement recovered a firearm from Pope, which was later identified as a privately made 9mm firearm with a large capacity magazine attached and which was loaded with one round of 9mm ammunition.

The felon in possession of ammunition charges each carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; officers of the Clifton Police Department, under the direction of Chief Thomas Rinaldi; officers of the Paterson Police Department, under Officer in Charge Isa M. Abbassi; officers of the Passaic County Sheriff's Department under Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik; officers of the Passaic Police Department, under Chief Luis Guzman; and officers of New York City Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Edward Caban, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachelle M. Navarro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Updated July 20, 2023

Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 23-209