Juries Convict Overland Park Man of Drug Offense, Illegal Firearm Following Shooting
Faces at Least 15 Years in Prison After Second Trial
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An Overland Park, Kan., man who was previously found guilty of a drug offense was convicted by a second federal trial jury today of illegally possessing a firearm, which was involved in a shooting during an altercation at a downtown Kansas City, Mo., bar.
Caesar V. Vaca, 42, was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The investigation began when Kansas City police officers were dispatched to PR’s Place, a bar at West 18th Street and Washington Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 20, 2016. Witnesses told officers that Vaca and several other men were in an altercation inside the bar, which started again later outside the bar. Vaca pulled a handgun on another person and shot at the victim, according to witnesses, then left the scene, driving north.
Officers collected an expended 9mm shell casing at the scene of the shooting. Later the same day, a witness who was hiking along the Missouri river bank at Berkley Riverfront Park found a loaded Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun that had been abandoned in the park and called the police. Officers recovered the firearm, which ballistics testing linked to the expended shell casing found at the scene.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Vaca has a prior federal felony conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and prior state felony convictions for aggravated battery, aggravated escape from custody and distributing marijuana.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for about an hour and 50 minutes before returning the guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Greg Kays, ending a trial that began Monday, March 25, 2019.
Vaca was originally indicted on May 22, 2018, for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. When Vaca was arrested, he was in possession of approximately eight grams of powder cocaine (some of which was packaged in five separate baggies) and $1,874. When officers searched Vaca’s vehicle, they found a trace amount of cocaine and a razor blade. Vaca was then charged in a superseding indictment with an additional drug-trafficking count. The court ordered the two counts of the superseding indictment to be severed, which resulted in a separate trial for each charge.
On Dec. 13, 2018, another trial jury found Vaca guilty of possessing cocaine.
Under federal statutes, Vaca is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Trey Alford and Alison D. Dunning and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Smith. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.