ROCKFORD — A Belvidere man was sentenced on firearms charges today by U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard. MICHAEL TAPIA, 26, of Belvidere, Ill., was sentenced to a total of 20 years in federal prison and to 3 years of supervised release following imprisonment. Tapia did not appear at the sentencing and was sentenced in absentia after Judge Reinhard found that Tapia was knowingly and voluntarily absent.
On Aug. 25, 2016, following a four-day jury trial, Tapia was found guilty of one count of conspiring to receive, possess, conceal, store, sell, and dispose of stolen firearms and ammunition; one count of receiving, possessing, concealing, and storing stolen firearms and ammunition; and one count of illegally possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon. Three other area men who were also charged in the case previously pleaded guilty to firearm charges: TEOVANNI CUNNINGHAM, 32, of Rockford, Ill., MICHAEL SCHAFFER, 34, and DARRELL REED, 28, of Byron, Ill.
According to the indictment and evidence at trial, on Dec. 31, 2012, Tapia and Cunningham broke into a residence in northern Illinois and stole over 21 firearms and ammunition from the residence. Tapia and Cunningham later transferred some of the concealed stolen firearms to their co-defendants and stored some of the firearms at other locations.
Cunningham pleaded guilty on May 31, 2016, to conspiring to receive, possess, conceal, store, sell, and dispose of stolen firearms and ammunition; receiving, possessing, concealing, and storing stolen firearms and ammunition; and illegally possessing firearms and ammunition as a felon. Cunningham was sentenced on Sept. 20, 2016, to a total of 188 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,723.99.
Reed pleaded guilty on June 15, 2016, to receiving, possessing, concealing, storing, selling, and disposing of stolen firearms, and was sentenced on Oct. 17, 2016, to one year and one day in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $750.00. Schaffer pleaded guilty on June 3, 2016, to conspiring to receive, possess, conceal, store, sell, and dispose of stolen firearms and ammunition. Schaffer has not yet been sentenced.
The sentencing was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and George Lauder, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, Rockton Police Department and Rockford Police Department assisted in the investigation.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Talia Bucci and Michael D. Love.