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United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm, Assault on a Federal Officer, and Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance was sentenced by Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Judge.

Uriah Lafferty, age 35, was sentenced on December 11, 2020, to seven years in federal prison on each charge, to run concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $300 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, $3,563.05 in restitution to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, $21,765.87 in restitution to the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, and $564.45 in restitution to a local property owner for damages incurred while law enforcement was attempting to arrest Lafferty.

The charges relate to Lafferty knowingly making a false written statement when attempting to purchase a firearm in October 2019 at Rapid City.  When law enforcement attempted to arrest Lafferty on the federal warrant related to that false statement, he fled and engaged law enforcement in a high-speed pursuit lasting nearly an hour.  The pursuit began on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and Lafferty was ultimately arrested near Hermosa, South Dakota.  During the pursuit, Lafferty assaulted three Oglala Sioux Tribe police officers, a deputy U.S. Marshal, and a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper by crashing his vehicle into law enforcement vehicles, swatting at the officers attempting to arrest him, and refusing to comply with orders to stop resisting.   Following his arrest, Lafferty was found to be in possession of more than 17 grams of methamphetamine, which he intended to distribute to others. 

“These crimes are gut-wrenching and there is no question that this sentencing is just,” said Robert Perry, Assistant Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office stationed in Rapid City. “The FBI is responsible for investigating the most serious crimes in Indian Country and we, along with our federal state, local and tribal partners, will continue to work together to pursue people like Mr. Lafferty. The FBI and our partners are committed to protecting all of our communities, helping victims, and ensuring that justice is served.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also 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; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshal Service, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson prosecuted the case.

Lafferty was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

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