A 48-year-old man from Rockford has learned that not following proper firearm safety protocols can have severe consequences. The man was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison on Feb. 12 on drug trafficking and firearms charges, but police only became aware of his alleged activities because of an injury he suffered while cleaning one of his guns. The Rockford resident was sentenced after entering into a negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors.
Reports indicate that the man arrived at a hospital emergency room with a gunshot wound. The man is said to have told doctors that he accidentally shot himself in the foot while cleaning an AR-15 rifle. Medical facilities are required to report gunshot wounds to the police, and law enforcement soon discovered that the man was a convicted felon and could not legally own firearms.
This was enough to secure a search warrant for the man’s residence. During the search, police say they found about 2 pounds of methamphetamine along with a number of rifles and handguns. The man was sentenced to consecutive sentences of 5 years for possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking and 10 years for methamphetamine possession with the intent to distribute. The man will also be supervised for five years following his release.
The federal penalties for firearm and drug charges are often severe, and defendants who take their chances in court may face even longer periods of incarceration. However, federal prosecutors have heavy caseloads, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may urge them to offer more lenient treatment in return for a quick resolution. A plea bargain has the potential to reduce an individual’s time in prison.