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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

Thursday, July 17, 2014

United States Attorney Announces Felon In Possession Sentence

Hogsett continues aggressive fight against illegal firearm possession to protect Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS– Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney, today announced the conviction and sentencing of Donald T. Bryant, 43, Avon, for one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of use of false identification in the acquisition of a firearm, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Bryant was sentenced to 78 months (6 ½ years), in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson.

“My office has been relentlessly committed to taking illegal gun owners off the streets,” said Hogsett. “Our communities have suffered too much violence at the hands of felons in possession of firearms. We continue to do our part to help stop the senseless violence suffered in our Hoosier communities.”

On August 30, 2012, Bryant purchased a Smith and Wesson, 9mm pistol from Fort Liberty Firearms, a firearms dealer in Avon, Indiana. When making the purchase, Bryant identified himself as “R.B.” a man who died in Lake County, Indiana in 1989. Bryant provided an Indiana Identification Card and other documents in the name of “R.B.” displaying photographs of Bryant, not “R.B.”, on them.

It is illegal to purchase a firearm using a “straw-man” purchase. Usually, this illegal transaction happens when a felon asks a non-felon to purchase a firearm for him or her. Bryant used the identity of a deceased man, to make the illegal purchase.

According to federal law, it is illegal for a person convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. Between 1992 and 2011, Bryant had acquired five separate felony convictions, each with a prison sentence of a year or more. In 2002 Bryant was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for a firearms conviction in the Northern District of Indiana. He then violated his supervised release conditions and was returned to the Bureau of Prisons for an additional 18 months.

“This case shows the success of our Violent Crime Initiative. One of the most effective ways to prevent violence in our communities is to make sure those with prior felonies are not armed,” said Hogsett.

The United States Attorney’s Violent Crime Initiative began in 2011, and is intended to focus on the “worst of the worst” violent offenders by marshaling federal resources to provide local partners the additional tools they may need to succeed in their effort to promote peace. In 2011, only 14 firearms charges were filed. Since then, over 325 firearms cases have been prosecuted. By charging these cases federally, violent felons must serve 85 % of their sentence at a minimum.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Mathew Rinka, who prosecuted this case for the government, Bryant must pay $14,800 in restitution to the Department of Education for fraudulently obtaining student loans and serve three years of supervised release after his sentence.

Updated January 26, 2015