PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For the second time this week, a federal court judge has sentenced a previously convicted felon to a lengthy federal prison sentence for crimes involving the use or possession of a firearm, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr; and Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives‘ Boston Field Office.
U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith on Wednesday sentenced Juan Colon, 22, of Providence, to 96 months in federal prison. Colon was convicted by a federal court jury in September 2012 on drug trafficking and firearm charges, brought as a result of a Providence Police investigation into Colon's drug trafficking activities. At the time of Colon's arrest in December 2011, Providence Police seized three loaded firearms and more than 100 rounds of ammunition associated with the defendant.
On Monday, Alphonso D. Johnson, 38, of Providence, a career offender, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. to 312 months in federal prison for robbing a Providence convenience store clerk at gunpoint in April 2011, and for robbing and assaulting a Providence restaurant owner with a pistol two days later. Johnson pleaded guilty on October 10, 2012, to two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and use and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.
United States Attorney Peter Neronha commented, "As I stated earlier this week, I am pleased that, working with the Providence Police Department and with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, we continue to bring gun-wielding criminals to justice, whether in federal or state court. These cooperative efforts are essential to removing illegal guns from the streets to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe for all Rhode Islanders."
Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr. said, "Thanks to the continued hard work and collaboration between the Providence Police Department and our federal partners in law enforcement, two dangerous criminals no longer threaten our community. I commend the U.S. Attorney's Office for its successful prosecution of these men, and look forward to future cooperation between our agencies. "
"The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, in these cases the Providence Police Department, to investigate career criminals who commit firearms related crime," stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Guy N. Thomas, Boston Columbus Field Division. "The lengthy sentences both individuals received should send a clear message to others who commit firearm related violent crime."
According to evidence presented to a federal jury, a court authorized search of Juan Colon‘s residence on December 5, 2011, resulted in the seizure of a loaded firearm which Colon attempted to hide as officers entered the residence, a significant quantity of ammunition, and various quantities of cocaine and marijuana. A search of two vehicles parked outside of Colon‘s residence resulted in the seizure of two loaded firearms and $10,000 in cash, all associated with the defendant. On September 13, 2012, a federal jury convicted Colon of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
At the time of his guilty plea in U.S. District Court on October 10, 2012, Alphonso Johnson admitted to the court that on April 18, 2011, he robbed a Providence convenience store clerk at gunpoint of several hundred dollars in cash, cigarettes and a box of cigars. He also admitted to the court that two days later he robbed a West End restaurant owner at gunpoint of more than $4,300 cash in restaurant proceeds, struck her in the face twice with a .25 caliber pistol and kicked her before fleeing on foot.
Juan Colon was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul F. Daly and Milind M. Shah. Alphonso Johnson was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Rose.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted Providence Police in the investigation of both of these matters.