Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington today sentenced Ernest Vereen, Jr. (40, Tampa) to 24 years and 5 months in federal prison for possessing a firearm as an Armed Career Criminal. He was found guilty on November 1, 2016, after a two-day trial.
According to trial testimony, when officers from the Tampa Police Department confronted Vereen pursuant to an ongoing investigation, he reached for his firearm before ultimately complying with their demands. During the sentencing hearing, the judge described Vereen’s decades-long history of sexual and physical violence, noting that she was particularly concerned that Vereen targeted people with less physical strength than him, specifically women and, in one instance, a 4-year-old child. The judge explained her decision to sentence Vereen at the high end of his guidelines range, explaining that the Court’s first obligation was to keep society safe.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Tampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Natalie Hirt Adams.
This is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction strategy. United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, along with Daryl R. McCrary, 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.