BOISE – Today, the Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 14,200 defendants with firearms-related crimes during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, despite the challenges of COVID 19 and its impact on the criminal justice process. These cases have been a Department priority since November 2019 when Attorney General William P. Barr announced his commitment to investigating, prosecuting, and combatting gun crimes as a critical part of the Department’s anti-violent crime strategy. These firearms-related charges are the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), led by Acting Director Regina Lombardo, who has made firearms-related investigations a priority.
“The number one priority of government is to keep its citizens safe,” said Attorney General Barr. “By preventing firearms from falling into the hands of individuals who are prohibited from having them, we can stop violent crime before it happens. Violating federal firearms laws is a serious crime and offenders face serious consequences. The Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who illegally buy, sell, use, or possess firearms. Reducing gun violence requires a coordinated effort, and we could not have charged more than 14,000 individuals with firearms-related crimes without the hard work of the dedicated law enforcement professionals at the ATF, our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, and especially all of our state and local law enforcement partners.”
“Protecting the public from violent crime involving firearms is at the core of ATF’s mission,” commented ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo. “Every day the men and women of ATF pursue and investigate those who use firearms to commit violent crimes in our communities, many of whom are prohibited from possessing firearms from previous convictions. ATF, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation, is committed to bringing these offenders to justice for their egregious and violent criminal acts.”
Of the more than 14,200 cases charged, sixty cases have been brought by the District of Idaho, announced U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis.
“We have a great impact on curtailing violent crime by focusing our efforts on the enforcement of federal firearm laws,” said U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis. “Through our partnerships, we are ensuring that those that contribute to gun violence face appropriate charges and sentences that will protect our community.”
Under federal law, it is illegal to possess a firearm if you fall into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon, illegal alien, or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to illegally purchase – firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, is also a federal offense. The Department is committed to prosecuting these firearms offenses as well as using all modern technologies available to law enforcement such as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, known as NIBIN, to promote gun crime intelligence. Keeping illegal firearms out of the hands of violent criminals will continue to be a priority of the Department of Justice and we will use all appropriate, available means to keep the law-abiding people of this country safe from gun crime.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) Programs
A key component of Idaho’s strategy is its Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) programs. First, is the Treasure Valley Gang SAUSA program, which is based in southwestern Idaho. Second, is the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP) SAUSA program.
In southwestern Idaho, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ATF are founding members of the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force (Metro), a co-located task force dedicated to investigating violent offenders and criminal enterprises in the Treasure Valley. Their focus is and has been on reducing gang violence in southwestern Idaho. As a complement to this effort, the United States Attorney’s Office utilizes a Gang SAUSA. The Gang SAUSA, a federally deputized Canyon County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, is co-located in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and prosecutes all of the gang and gun crime referrals from the Metro Task Force. The Gang SAUSA was hired by the Treasure Valley Partnership and the State of Idaho to address gang crimes. The Treasure Valley Partnership is comprised of a group of elected officials in southwest Idaho dedicated to regional coordination, cooperation, and collaboration on creating coherent regional growth. For more information, visit treasurevalleypartners.org. This program has enjoyed tremendous success and is a national model. Since February 2007, 413 defendants have been indicted, convicted, and sentenced as part of the Gang SAUSA program. The 413 convictions obtained thus far have resulted in a total prison time of 22,157 months (approximately 1,846 years), representing an average prison sentence of 53.6 months (4.5 years). Federal sentences are served out of-of-state, helping to disrupt criminal networks.
Similarly, in the U.S. Attorney’s branch office in Pocatello, the EIP SAUSA prosecutes federal gun crimes among others. This SAUSA program is sponsored by the Eastern Idaho Partnership, a coalition of local city and county officials in eastern Idaho. The EIP SAUSA program allows law enforcement to utilize the federal criminal justice system – through the EIP SAUSA – to prosecute, convict, and sentence violent armed criminals. These criminals often receive stiffer penalties than they might in state courts. This program was created in January 2016. Since that time, approximately 143 defendants have been indicted by the EIP SAUSA. These defendants have been sentenced to 7,063 months (approximately 588 years) in federal prison, representing an average prison sentence of 49.3 months (4.1 years).
The following are examples of cases prosecuted in Idaho, some of which were prosecuted through the Special AUSA programs.
Just last month on September 8, 2020, Hussein Al Hasani, 22, of Boise, pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a firearm because he was a convicted felon. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boise on August 13, 2019. According to court records, on June 15, 2019, Al Hasani was in an altercation with individuals outside of a hookah bar in Nampa. During the altercation, Al Hasani discharged a firearm. Police later arrested Al Hasani and found him in possession of a .40 caliber, semi-automatic handgun. Al Hasani was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a prior felony conviction. Al Hasani is awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for December 7, 2020, before Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Boise.
Just this week on October 13, 2020, Mark Harry Thompson, 62, of Yuba City, California, pleaded guilty to dealing in firearms without a license. Court records reveal that beginning around January 2017 and continuing to June 2019, Thompson, who resided in California, would regularly travel to Idaho to purchase firearms that he would not be able to purchase in California due to differences in state laws. Thompson falsely represented that he was an Idaho resident in obtaining the firearms in Idaho. Thompson would then transport the firearms back to California and sell them to other individuals. During this period, Thompson sold in excess of one hundred firearms in California. The investigation and prosecution of unlicensed firearms dealers is an important part of enforcing federal firearms laws. Federal law establishes a system designed to prevent guns from falling into the hands of felons and others who cannot legally possess firearms. When unlicensed firearms dealers illegally sell firearms for their own profit, they put the community at risk. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to vigorously pursuing these unlicensed dealers.
Finally, on September 30, 2020, Timothy Earnest Hudson, 37, of Idaho Falls, was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. According to court records, officers with the Idaho Falls Police Department responded to a call for a possible drug overdose at Hudson’s residence in July 2019. Officers contacted Hudson, who was on parole due to a prior felony conviction. The police officers and officers with the Idaho Department of Probation and Parole conducted a search of Hudson’s residence. They located a Ruger pistol in Hudson’s possession, which had previously been reported as stolen. Hudson was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his prior felony conviction.
Idaho’s anti-violent crime program has enjoyed success because of the investigation and prosecution efforts at all levels of government. “Federal prosecutions of firearm crime involve collaboration between federal, tribal, state, and local agencies,” said Davis. “These partnerships promote our ability to make our community safer on a daily basis.”
For more information on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see: www.atf.gov/qa-category/atf-form-4473.
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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.