MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier today in federal court, a 27-year-old felon from Moorhead was sentenced for possessing a .410-gauge shotgun. United States District Court Judge John R. Tunheim sentenced Justin James Rodriguez to 108 months in federal prison on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Because the federal criminal justice system does not have parole, Rodriguez will spend virtually his entire prison sentence behind bars. He was indicted on June 21, 2011, and pleaded guilty on January 25, 2012.
In his plea agreement, Rodriguez admitted possessing the gun on January 27, 2011. According to a police report filed in the case, officers spotted a stolen jacket inside a car. During execution of the related search warrant, they also found a short-barreled shotgun under a duffel bag on the rear floor of the vehicle. After finding the gun, officers discovered seven shotgun shells and one spent shotgun shell. Police also uncovered several photos of Rodriguez holding the shotgun.
Because he is a felon, Rodriguez is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition at any time. Rodriguez's previous felony convictions, all of which occurred in Cass County, include possession of a controlled substance (2005), burglary (2005), conspiracy to commit theft (2006), and delivery of methamphetamine (2008).
This case is the result of an investigation by the Moorhead Police Department and the U.S. ATF. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey M. Bryan.
Note, the case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative launched by the U.S. Justice Department in 2001 to promote a multi-jurisdictional, comprehensive approach to reducing gun crime in America. PSN provides resources to strengthen law enforcement and crime prevention partnerships that are working to make our streets and communities safer.