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Justice News

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rufus Phelps Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearms Charges

Phelps Prosecuted as Part of “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE –Rufus Phelps, 26, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  The guilty plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement.

The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Phelps on Feb. 5, 2016, on a federal criminal complaint charging him with unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition on Feb. 4, 2016, in Bernalillo County, N.M.  According to the complaint, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers arrested Phelps on state charges on Feb. 4, 2016, after observing Phelps in a parked car, recognizing him from prior encounters, and learning that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. 

Phelps was indicted on Feb. 24, 2016, and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition on Feb. 4, 2016.  The indictment was subsequently superseded on March 9, 2016, to add an additional charge against Phelps for unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition on Sept. 11, 2015.  Phelps was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle.

During today’s proceedings, Phelps entered a guilty plea to the superseding indictment.  At sentencing, Phelps faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.  He remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Albuquerque Police Department, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Eva M. Fontanez is prosecuting the case.

The case is being prosecuted as part of the federal “worst of the worst” anti-violence initiative.  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 primarily based on their prior felony convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.  Because New Mexico’s violent crime rates, on a per capita basis, are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexico’s law enforcement community is collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates, including Bernalillo County, under this initiative.

Firearms Offenses
Updated September 7, 2016