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Lorenzo Watson, 29, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer to possessing with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $1,000,000, or both.
The defendant was arrested on September 26, 2019, after New York State Parole Officers went to his residence on Bauman Street in Rochester for a compliance check. Officers did not locate Watson at the residence, rather, they saw him walking on Bauman Street with his hands in his sweatshirt pockets. The officers approached Watson and searched him and found a pill bottle, which contained 40 small bags of a substance later identified as cocaine, and a handgun, in one of the sweatshirt pockets. The handgun, which had a defaced serial number, was loaded with eight rounds of ammunition. Officers also found $507.00 in UniteStates currency in Watson’s pants pocket.
Watson was previously convicted in August of 2017, in Monroe County Court, of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree and sentenced to serve two years in prison. In addition, the defendant was previously convicted in July of 2011, also in Monroe County Court, of Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and again sentenced to serve two years in prison. As a result of those convictions, the defendant is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.
The matter was brought by the United States Attorney’s Office as part of its Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative. PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci; the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Acting Chief Mark Simmons; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division.
Sentencing is scheduled for December 7, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Larimer.
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