29 January 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Julie Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and Michael S. Clemens, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today that defendant, William Charles “Chuck” O’Neil, formerly of Lake Worth, Florida, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp to twenty (20) years in prison in a Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) prosecution. PSN is a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies designed to reduce armed crime.
On September 22, 2004, O’Neil pleaded guilty to the charges of possession of firearms by a previously convicted felon and possession of firearms by a drug user, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and 922(g)(3), respectively. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, O’Neil agreed that he qualified for the armed career criminal sentencing enhancement set forth in Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(e), which required him to serve a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen (15) years in prison.
The charges against O’Neil stemmed from events that occurred on April 26, 2003, at his home. According to statements made in court and filed pleadings, O’Neil, on that date, called paramedics to his home to treat his former girlfriend, Nina Denopoulos, who was overdosing on cocaine supplied by O’Neil. Police officers also responded, and O’Neil admitted that there were guns in the house. After paramedics took Denopoulos to a hospital, O’Neil was advised of his rights and signed a written consent to search the home. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office detectives conducted the search and found a Colt 10mm semi-automatic pistol with a full magazine lying next to it in a safe. Detectives also located a loaded Winchester Defender 12-gauge shotgun in the defendant’s closet. Denopoulos, who was 22 years old, was declared dead after her arrival at the hospital.
Mr. Jiménez stated, “This case is an excellent example of our commitment to take convicted felons who illegally possess firearms off the streets. PSN ensures that our citizens are protected from those dangerous individuals.”
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney A. Marie Villafa*a.