OAKLAND, CA—Dontae Jerome Jones was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
Mr. Jones was convicted on June 20, 2012, by a federal jury after a two-day trial. Evidence at trial showed that after a traffic stop on July 24, 2011, Jones, 30, possessed the loaded 9mm pistol found under the rear of the front passenger seat in the car he was driving. Although Jones admitted the gun belonged to him at the scene, at trial his attorney argued that he had falsely confessed only to protect the mother of his child, who owned the car and was in the car in front passenger seat at the time of his arrest. However, Jones was captured on recorded calls made after his arrest trying to cover up his possession of the loaded gun. He asked that “other shells” be removed from his truck before they could be discovered by authorities. He also asked that an acquaintance sign an affidavit claiming the gun belonged to him and not the defendant. In addition, a low-level amount of DNA recovered from the gun was consistent with Jones’s DNA. Finally, there was unchallenged testimony that within a month of his arrest, Jones used a similar-looking handgun to threaten and physically assault another individual.
The six-year sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Wilken, who also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on November 5, 2012.
Mr. Jones was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 1, 2011. His arrest resulted from the efforts of a task force that operated in the summer of 2011 between the Richmond Police Department and the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office that sought to curb increasing gun violence in Richmond.
Brian C. Lewis and Michelle J. Kane are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Janice Pagsanjan, Noble Hughes, and Patty Lau. The prosecution is also the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.