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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fayetteville Man Sentenced to Over 8 Years in Federal Prison for Felon in Possession of Firearm Violation

           Fayetteville, Arkansas - Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that James VanValkenberg, age 22, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 100 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.  The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

            U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “This defendant, a convicted felon, was in possession of a loaded handgun and fleeing from law enforcement near a busy intersection when he was taken into custody.  Felons in possession of firearms pose a serious threat of harm to police officers and citizens in our communities.  Our office, along with our partners in law enforcement, will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute these types of cases in order to keep communities throughout the Western District of Arkansas safe from senseless violence.”

            According to court records, on November 5, 2014, patrol officers with the Fayetteville Police Department heard a vehicle collision and went to investigate.  As the officers approached the scene, they observed VanValkenberg digging around inside of his vehicle.  Once VanValkenberg saw the officers, he began walking away from the scene of the accident.  Officers gave VanValkenberg repeated verbal commands to stop; however, VanValkenberg quickly fled from the officers and the accident scene.  The officers pursued VanValkenberg on foot, and after tasing him twice, were able to catch and subdue him.  Once the officers were able to take him into custody, VanValkenberg was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm, specifically a Beretta .25 caliber pistol.  The Beretta in VanValkenberg’s possession was determined to have been manufactured outside the state of Arkansas.  VanValkenberg has five prior felony convictions, and is therefore prohibited from possessing firearms.  On February 4, 2015, VanValkenberg pleaded guilty to one count of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.

             This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Fayetteville Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.

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             Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @ www.pacer.gov

Updated June 3, 2015