3 California men brought up on firearm possession charges, 2 sentenced

Three California men brought up on firearms possession charges appeared in federal court this week, authorities announced.

“Any time a firearm is taken out of the hands of a criminal, our neighborhoods are safer,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement.

Fresno resident Juan Ignacio Valenzuela, 34, was sentenced to three years in prison for possessing a Norinco Type 54 pistol after being convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and stalking offenses in May 2014, according to court documents.

Ernie Rodriguez, 39, also of Fresno, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of an AA Arms Inc. AP9 9mm Luger and a 30-round magazine and has entered a plea deal request ahead of his scheduled Oct. 13 sentencing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Rodriguez was pulled over on Dec. 6 failing to stop at a stop sign and that’s when the officer found the firearm and ammunition on the floor of the driver’s seat and learned the vehicle had been stolen. According to court documents, Rodriguez, whose license was also suspended, “pounded his fists on the dash in disgust.”

The firearm, which Rodriguez said he “got from someone,” but would not elaborate, had been manufactured outside of California and transferred across state lines, according to court documents.

Rodriguez has been convicted of four felonies prior to this offense.

Modesto resident Anthony Rodriguez, 32, was sentenced to four years in prison for being a felon in possession of a Harrington & Richardson Model 929 .22 caliber revolver and 21 rounds of ammunition, both of which were shipped and transported in interstate commerce, according to the indictment.

Felony possession of a firearm carries potential penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

“We will continue to aggressively pursue these repeat offenders with our law enforcement partners and remove dangerous weapons from their grasp and hold them accountable for their crimes,” said Eric D. Harden, ATF acting special agent in charge, in a statement.