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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 24, 2014

Armed Career Criminal from Albuquerque Charged with Unlawfully Possessing Firearm in Santa Ana Pueblo

Purcella Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE- Joseph Ernest Purcella, III, 34, of Albuquerque, N.M., was arraigned today on an indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  Purcella entered a not guilty plea during today’s arraignment hearing.

Purcella was arrested on Oct. 30, 2014, on a criminal complaint alleging that he unlawfully possessed a firearm and ammunition in Sandoval County, N.M., on April 7, 2014.  At the time, Purcella previously had been convicted of several felony offenses, including aggravated battery, burglary, battery on a police officer, trafficking a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance.  Purcella subsequently was indicted on Nov. 19, 2014.

According to court filings, on April 7, 2014, officers of the Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department went to the Santa Ana Star Casino in response to a report of an armed robbery.  They arrested Purcella, who was identified as the alleged robber, on state charges filed by the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  The state charges were dismissed after federal charges were filed against Purcella. 

Purcella has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending trial, which has yet to be scheduled.  If convicted, Purcella faces an enhanced sentence of not less than 15 years in federal prison due to his status as an armed career offender.

U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said that Purcella is being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution.  Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. 

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of Homeland Security Investigations and the Santa Ana Pueblo Police Department, with assistance from the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob A. Wishard is prosecuting the case.

Charges in criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusations.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Updated January 26, 2015