Criminal Justice News

Monday, June 18, 2012

Convicted Felons Sentenced to 15 Years for Possession of a Firearm

Tampa, FL — U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore sentenced Leonard Smith (50, Tampa) and Rhonda Parks (43, Tampa) each to fifteen years in federal prison for being felons in possession of a firearm. They were both ordered to serve a five-year term of supervised release upon completion of their prison sentences. Smith and Parks both pled guilty in March 2012.

According to court documents, on July 13, 2011, an anonymous caller provided information to the Tampa Police Department (TPD) Rapid Offender Control (ROC) Squad regarding criminal activity taking place at a motel in Tampa located on Nebraska Avenue. Officers responded and observed Smith and Parks together at the motel. Officers watched them exit a room at the motel. During a subsequent search of that motel room, officers found a small amount of crack cocaine, some counterfeit crack cocaine, and a loaded .22 caliber Beretta pistol. Both Smith and Parks admitted to possessing the gun. Smith and Parks are both previously convicted felons, and therefore prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.

It is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program – a nationwide, gun–violence reduction strategy led by ATF. United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill, along with Virginia O’Brien, Special Agent in Charge, ATF, is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

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