U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
(717) 221-4482
November 18, 2015

Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Officers Join Forces to Combat Violent Crime in Harrisburg, York, Wilkes-Barre, and Williamsport

HARRISBURG—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today a renewed strategy for reducing and preventing violent crime in the Middle District of Pennsylvania focusing on the Harrisburg, York, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport areas. Federal, state and local law enforcement officers will join forces to coordinate their activities in high-crime areas and vigorously enforce the laws which punish gun offenses, gang activity, drug-related crimes and other acts of violence.

Peter J. Smith, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania stated, “we must remove the most violent individuals from our communities. This will require the very highest level of coordination between federal and local law enforcement agencies. The anti-violence strategy we are announcing today will advance the core mission of the Department of Justice to protect citizens from the most dangerous offenders in our communities.”

Joining U.S. Attorney Smith at the announcement were other high-level federal, state and local law enforcement officials.

The anti-violence strategy announced today consists of the following key elements:

  • identifying communities which are most in need of anti-violence solutions;
  • targeting high-priority offenders in those communities for aggressive prosecution;
  • conducting regular meetings of federal and local law enforcement officials to collect reliable data on local violent crime trends, share intelligence, screen cases for potential federal prosecution and coordinate joint enforcement activities;
  • expansion of existing prevention and post-conviction reentry programs.

Federal law carries severe penalties for prohibited individuals who possess firearms and for those individuals who commit violent crimes or serious drug offenses while possessing or using firearms.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g), individuals face up to ten years’ imprisonment if they possess a firearm or ammunition if:

  • they have been previously convicted of a felony;
  • they are a fugitive;
  • they are a drug user or addict;
  • they have been determined by a court or have been committed to a mental institution for a mental defect;
  • they are an illegal immigrant;
  • they were discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable condition;
  • they have renounced their United States citizenship;
  • they are under a court restraining order or have been convicted of domestic violence.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 924 (e), individuals who have three prior felony convictions for violent crimes or drug crimes and who are convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g) are subject to a minimum-mandatory fifteen year sentence.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 924 (c), individuals who commit a violent crime or a serious drug offense with a firearm face minimum-mandatory consecutive sentences of at least five years and up to life imprisonment:

  • if you commit a crime of violence or serious drug offense and possess a firearm during its commission—five years to life;
  • if the firearm is displayed—seven years to life;
  • if the firearm is discharged—ten years to life;
  • if a sawed-off rifle or shotgun is used—ten years to life;
  • if a machine gun or destructive device, or a firearm with a silencer is used—thirty years to life;
  • if you are convicted a second time under 18 U.S.C. § 924 (c), not less than twenty-five years to life imprisonment.

For the past year, federal, state and local officials have partnered and operated a pilot program based in Harrisburg focusing on firearms offenses committed by recidivists or individuals using firearms in connection with drug offenses, or other violent crimes. Due to the success of that program it was recently expanded to include firearms offenses in York, Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre. To date, federal law enforcement agencies have adopted approximately 34 cases involving 41 defendants and relating to firearms offenses from our local law enforcement counterparts in those jurisdictions and will continue to do so in the future. Additionally, we will continue to prosecute other violent crimes and drug crimes referred to us by our local law enforcement counterparts.

U.S. Attorney Smith stated that, “violent crime damages and destabilizes our neighborhoods, challenging or citizens as they strive to raise their families and be productive members of society. By coordinating efforts with our state and local law enforcement partners, we can ensure that limited law enforcement resources are being brought to bear in the most effective way possible to protect the people we serve.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge Sam Rabadi said “Individuals who repeatedly commit acts of violence will be targeted for investigation, arrested, and removed from our streets. If you choose to pursue a criminal path, it will end with a federal indictment and federal prison time. These indictments and arrests demonstrate that ATF and our law enforcement partners will work side-by-side to reduce and prevent gun violence in our communities.”

“This joint effort focuses our resources and combined capabilities on those offenders who are driving the violence in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sweeney. “The FBI is committed to working side by side with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in order to keep our local communities safe.”

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