ST. GEORGE, UT – Rashaan Mamao Matalolo of St. George, Utah, will spend 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order. Under federal law, individuals subject to a domestic violence protective order are prohibited from possessing a firearm. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer imposed the sentence Wednesday morning in federal court in St. George.
Matalolo, 25, pleaded guilty to the charge in a Felony Information at a hearing in July before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Kohler. He admitted that he possessed a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol on May 8, 2020. He also stipulated that he knew he was subject to domestic violence protective order that prohibited him from possessing firearms.
“Cases that allow us to get firearms out of the hands of domestic violence abusers are always a priority. Law enforcement officers around the state are watching for such violations and refer the cases to us. If anyone knows of someone in possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order, please reach out to your local police department,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.
“This is critically important as we work to protect victims of domestic violence during this time of COVID-19. Many stressors are exacerbated during the pandemic, including isolation and financial strain. Victims are in danger if they are isolated with an abuser or fear retaliation if they separate from the abuser,” Huber said. “With these types of prosecutions, we have a valuable tool to help protect victims.”
Matalolo came to the attention of officers with the St. George Police Department about 12:15 a.m. on May 8, 2020. Officers made contact with three individuals, including Matalolo, in the parking lot of the Clarion Suites in St. George. According to a complaint filed in the case, officers smelled the odor of marijuana and observed that an underage individual had an open can of beer.
An officer observed a handgun holstered on the side of a fanny pack Matalolo was wearing on his hips. As officers attempted to detain the three individuals, Matalolo fled on foot. An officer chasing him observed him drop the fanny pack and the firearm on the ground. Matalolo was able to escape and was not apprehended by officers that day.
Officers found the firearm Matalolo dropped. It did not contain ammunition and was later determined to be stolen. The gun holster was still attached to the fanny pack. Officers found identification documents belonging to Matalolo inside the fanny pack. Officers determined that Matalolo is subject to a valid protective order. He was arrested May 24, 2020, on an unrelated drug offense and booked into the Washington County jail.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the St. George Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah. Officers with the St. George Police Department and special agents of the DEA are investigating the case.