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The defendant, an eleven-time felon, created a dangerous situation for law enforcement and the community

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason Dunn announced that Rodney Paul Gonzales, age 53, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Gonzales was initially charged by criminal complaint and was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury on September 11, 2018.  He pled guilty before U.S. District Court Senior Judge Robert E. Blackburn on March 20, 2019, and was sentenced yesterday.  The defendant appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody and was remanded at its conclusion. 

According to the stipulated facts contained in Gonzales’s plea agreement as well as facts presented at sentencing, Colorado Springs Police Department officers encountered the defendant in an apartment complex parking lot after receiving a 911 call from a concerned citizen.  When officers arrived, they found the defendant, who was heavily intoxicated, passed out in a vehicle with the driver’s side door open.   All of the other doors were locked.  The defendant was spread out from the driver’s seat, over the top of the center console, onto the passenger’s seat.  Officers could see a handgun lying immediately next to him on the passenger’s seat.  The firearm, which had an obliterated serial number, was loaded with four rounds in the magazine and one round in the chamber.  Within easy reach of the defendant, in the center console, officers located an additional 10 rounds of ammunition as well as a small amount of suspected crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

The officers removed the firearm from the vehicle without injury to any officer, bystander, or the defendant.  The defendant’s prior felony convictions include serious crimes, such as attempted second-degree burglary, second-degree assault, violent crime with the use of a weapon, and felony menacing with a weapon.

“Mr. Gonzales had eleven chances to change his ways and should have never been anywhere near a loaded gun,” said United States Attorney Jason Dunn. “Our ability to get significant prison sentences under the federal Felon in Possession law is a tool that we gladly wield to help our local law enforcement partners get particularly violent or repeat offenders off the streets.” 

“This is another example of our successful partnership with the Colorado Springs Police Department,” said Denver ATF Special Agent in Charge David Booth.  “We are proud to have worked with the department to keep our communities safe.”

This case was investigated by the ATF with substantial assistance from the Colorado Springs Police Department.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Treaster.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

CASE NUMBER:    18-cr-413

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