US Attorney Announces Increase in Prosecution of Firearms-Related Crimes
MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, today announced the results of his office’s emphasis on prosecuting violent crimes involving firearms. The U.S. Department of Justice announced that nationwide, more than 14,200 defendants have been charged with firearms-related crimes during Fiscal Year 2020. In the Western District of Wisconsin, 56 defendants have been charged.
According to U.S. Attorney Blader, the number of gun crimes prosecuted by his office has risen by over 100% between 2017 and 2019. The types of gun crimes subject to federal prosecution include felons in possession of firearms or ammunition; business and bank robberies while armed; drug distribution while armed; false statements made to federal firearms licensees; those previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; those subject to domestic protection orders; and those prohibited from possessing a firearm such as illegal aliens, users of illegal drugs, and those with a prior mental health adjudication.
“The number one priority of government is to keep its citizens safe,” said Attorney General William Barr. “By preventing firearms from falling into the hands of individuals who are prohibited from having them, we can stop violent crime before it happens. Violating federal firearms laws is a serious crime and offenders face serious consequences. The Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who illegally buy, sell, use, or possess firearms. Reducing gun violence requires a coordinated effort, and we could not have charged more than 14,000 individuals with firearms-related crimes without the hard work of the dedicated law enforcement professionals at the ATF, our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, and especially all of our state and local law enforcement partners.”
“Those who commit crimes with firearms undermine the safety and security of Wisconsin communities,” said U.S. Attorney Blader. “My office is committed to working with federal, state and local investigators, in cooperation with Wisconsin’s District Attorneys, to target offenders who use guns in crimes, felons who illegally possess firearms, and those who attempt to buy guns illegally.”
In addition to investigations by federal law enforcement agents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office works closely with local and state law enforcement and prosecutors to identify the cases most appropriate for federal prosecution. Often felons in possession or firearms or ammunition come to light during a local investigation for domestic violence, drug distribution or use, battery, disorderly conduct, and other violations of state law.
Some recent examples of the types of cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office include:
- A man was found passed out behind the wheel of his car in Monona, Wisconsin, and a loaded 9mm pistol was found in the center console of the vehicle. The firearm was traced; it had been purchased by Lidia Molina. After further investigation, a total of six people were prosecuted: Molina was prosecuted for the “straw purchase” of several firearms. Molina lied on the required forms during the purchase of firearms, falsely claiming that she was the actual buyer of the firearms, when in fact she was purchasing them for her boyfriend, Francesco Anglin, a felon. Anglin turned over firearms to Jamohn Barney, the man found passed out in his car, and Sean Okray, who each had prior felony convictions. Barney was sentenced to 66 months and Okray was sentenced to 46 months. Anglin is scheduled to be sentenced on October 21. Molina received three years of probation. A sixth individual, Tahjmalyk Porter, who was a felon and went to an area gun store with Molina and Anglin where he was captured on store video handling a semiautomatic rifle, was sentenced to two years of probation.
- A hospital in Eau Claire came into contact with a minor who said Lamont Davis, who had prior felony convictions, was drunk, physically abusive to his children, and had a gun. Eau Claire police officers responded to Davis’s residence and arrested him after finding him in possession of a 9mm pistol. Davis reached for his weapon when the officers encountered him. At Davis’s sentencing, the judge said Davis caused domestic disturbances that terrorized his girlfriend and children, and sentenced him to 30 months.
- Curtis Green was a suspect in a shooting in West Salem, Wisconsin, and the execution of a search warrant at his home during that investigation resulted in the location of a firearm. Green was sentenced to 57 months for being a felon in possession of the firearm. At the time, he was on supervised release following his prison term for a 2006 conviction for the theft of 38 firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer, and his sentenced was increased by an additional 12 months for the revocation of his supervised release.
- Martell Norris, a kilogram-level drug dealer in the Madison area, was sentenced to two concurrent 15-year prison terms for possessing crack cocaine for distribution and being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm. He was considered an armed career criminal under federal law because he previously had been convicted of three violent felonies.
- Robert J. Powell IV was captured on city cameras in La Crosse discharging a handgun into the air during an early morning fight on a street. Although the firearm Powell used was never recovered, a shell casing and a round of ammunition were recovered. Powell was sentenced to 30 months for being a felon in possession of ammunition.
- Steven Gillis was subject to a domestic order of protection issued in Minnesota. Two months after the order was issued, he attempted to purchase a firearm from a federal firearms dealer in Wisconsin and said he was not subject to such a restraining order. A criminal background check resulted in the purchase being denied due to the active protection order. He was convicted of making the false statement and served over nine months in federal custody.
- Nicholas K. Murn was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for committing armed robberies of five Rock County businesses during a two-week period of time in October 2019. Murn requested a sentence of seven years because of his lack of a prior criminal record, but the sentencing judge denied this request due to the trauma Murn inflicted on the victims, the employees of the businesses.
- Patrick Staton initiated a confrontation outside of his Douglas County home, arming himself with a firearm. Staton was subsequently was shot by another individual in self-defense. During a search of Staton’s residence, law enforcement officers found three firearms and ammunition, including an AR-15 style rifle. All three guns had been stolen in Minnesota. Staton, who was prohibited from possessing firearms due to several prior felony convictions, was sentenced to 72 months.