MINNEAPOLIS — Last week in federal court, a jury found a 33–year–old felon from the northeastern Minnesota community of Aurora guilty of possessing a 20–gauge shotgun. On February 10, 2012, following a three–day trial, the jury convicted John Joseph Douglas of one count of being a career criminal in possession of a firearm. Douglas was indicted on October 4, 2011.
The indictment and the evidence presented at trial proved that on May 30, 2011, Douglas possessed the gun and fired it into the air several times while surrounded by a group of people. Upon their arrival on the scene, officers found the group seated around a campfire on a vacant lot. Searching the grounds, the officers discovered a box of ammunition and several freshly fired shotgun shell cases. The shotgun itself was found nearby.
Because Douglas has been previously convicted of a felony, he is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms at any time. His prior convictions include third–degree burglary (1999), first–degree burglary (1999), second–degree assault (1999 and 2007), and aggravated robbery (twice in 1999), all of which occurred in St. Louis County. Since at least three of those offenses were crimes of violence, Douglas is now subject to the federal armed career criminal statute, which mandates a minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison upon conviction in this case. Given that the federal criminal justice system does not have parole, offenders serve virtually their entire sentences behind bars. United States District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz will determine Douglas’ exact sentence at a future hearing yet to be scheduled.
This case was the result of an investigation by the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, the Hoyt Lakes Police Department, the Gilbert Police Department, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew S. Dunne and Jeffrey M. Bryan.
Note, this case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun crime in America. PSN, launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001, encourages cooperative, multi–jurisdictional law enforcement and crime prevention efforts.