U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced that a federal jury has convicted Sofonzia Mack, 37, of Rochester, NY, of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and being a felon in possession of a handgun and ammunition. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew T. McGrath and Charles E. Moynihan, who handled the trial of the case, stated that on March 28, 2017, Rochester Police officers stopped a blue Kia Sedona in the 800 block of Exchange Street in Rochester after seeing the driver commit multiple violations of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. As officers approached the vehicle, they smelled what they believed to be marijuana coming from inside. The driver and the defendant, who was in the front passenger seat, were directed to get out of the vehicle so officers could further investigate the smell.
While searching the defendant, officers found a .25 caliber, semiautomatic pistol in Mack’s jacket pocket. Officers could see the serial number on the firearm had been defaced and that it was loaded with four rounds of ammunition. Officers also seized 21 plastic vials containing marijuana in a draw-string bag, which the defendant had secured over his shoulder at the time of the stop, and over $900 in United States currency located in the center console.
On July 30, 2007, in Albany County Court, the defendant was convicted of Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and sentenced to serve three years in prison. As a result, Mack was legally prohibited from possessing a gun. The jury found the defendant not guilty of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and knowingly possessing a defaced handgun.
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 verdict is the result of an investigation by the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief La’Ron Singletary, 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 5, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge David G. Larimer, who presided over the trial of the case.