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Austin, MN Felon Pleads Guilty to Possessing an Assault Rifle

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 31-year-old felon from Austin pleaded guilty to possessing an assault rifle. Samuel James Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of firearms. Johnson, who was indicted on April 17, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle.

In his plea agreement, Johnson admitted that on November 4, 2010, he possessed a .39-caliber, semi-automatic assault rifle. Because he is a felon, Johnson is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition at any time. Johnson’s criminal history includes a number of convictions in Mower County: attempted simple robbery (2000), simple robbery (2007), possession of a short-barreled shotgun (2007), and sale of a simulated controlled substance (2007). In addition, Johnson has a Hennepin County conviction for felony theft (1999).

Since at least three of Johnson’s prior felony convictions were for crimes of violence or serious drug crimes, sentencing in the current case will be subject to the Armed Career Criminal Act, which mandates a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. The maximum sentence is life in prison. Judge Kyle will determine Johnson’s sentence at a future hearing.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the University of Minnesota Police Department; the Minneapolis Police Department; the St. Paul Police Department; the Fairmont Police Department; and the Minnesota Department of Corrections. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter.

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