New York Man Charged with Firearms Offense
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 11, 2009|
A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Christian A. Rufino, 39, of Patterson, New York, with being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to an affidavit supporting a complaint filed on December 2, Cranston police found a gun in the trunk of a car that Rufino was driving on December 1.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Cranston Police Chief Marco Palumbo, Jr., and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, jointly announced a one-count indictment, which the grand jury returned on December 9 in U.S. District Court, Providence.
According to the affidavit supporting the complaint, on December 1, a Cranston Police officer stopped a rented car that Rufino was driving for allegedly speeding. Rufino was not listed on the rental agreement as one of the authorized drivers of the car, which, according to the rental agreement, was supposed to be driven only in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Rufino told the officer that he was driving to New York and was speeding because he was late. The officer detected a “strong odor of marijuana,” according to the affidavit and, when Rufino was taken out of the car and searched, the officer seized a small plastic bag containing what appeared to be cocaine. Rufino described it as “just a little blow,” according to the affidavit. He also told the officer that he is a member of the New Roc City Chapter of the Hells Angels in New York.
During a search of the car, police found in the trunk a loaded .38 caliber revolver and additional .38 caliber ammunition. According to the affidavit, Rufino has previously been convicted of at least one felony. Federal law prohibits felons from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Rufino pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday before Magistrate Judge David L. Martin, who ordered him detained. An indictment is merely an allegation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Cranston Police and officers assigned to the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Rose is prosecuting the case.