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Tampa, Florida– Senior U.S. District Judge John Antoon II today sentenced Michael Bernard Lawson (38, Sarasota) to 10 years in federal prison for distributing cocaine base (“crack cocaine”) and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. The court also ordered Lawson to forfeit the firearms.

Lawson had pleaded guilty on November 27, 2019.

According to court documents and information presented during the sentencing hearing, on May 23, 2018, Lawson began serving a two-year term of community control after serving five years in state prison for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm. In April 2019, Lawson sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant and undercover law enforcement officer on four occasions over a 16-day period. Lawson also sold the undercover officer two firearms during two of the drug transactions. One of those firearms was a short-barreled shotgun.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Sarasota Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charlie D. Connally.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence and enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. For more information on Project Guardian visit www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

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