SAN JOSE – LAWFUEL – Law Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N. …

SAN JOSE – LAWFUEL – Law Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Joseph Edward Shopes pleaded guilty Monday, April 16, 2007 to Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun.

Mr. Shopes, 33, of Watsonville, was indicted by a federal Grand Jury on May 24, 2006. He was charged with one count of Possession of an Unregistered Sawed-Off Shotgun in violation of Title 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d).

Under the plea agreement, Mr. Shopes pleaded guilty to the charge and also agreed to forfeit the firearm he possessed.

In pleading guilty, Mr.Shopes admitted that on April 25, 2006, he was found by officers of the Watsonville Police Department to be in possession of a shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length or a modified overall length of less than 26 inches.

This prosecution is part of an ongoing effort by the United States Attorney’s Office, under the federal “Project Safe Neighborhood” program, to assist local law enforcement in cracking down on those who possess weapons or ammunition in violation of federal law. United States Attorney Scott N. Schools stated, “This office takes seriously its obligation to ensure that felons who possess firearms and ammunition are prosecuted to the fullest extent of federal law. We will continue to work closely with the Watsonville Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to take these dangerous criminals off the streets.”

Shopes is being held without bail. Sentencing is scheduled for August 2007, before United States District Judge James Ware in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for the count of conviction is 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Thomas M. O’Connell is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Tracey Andersen. The prosecution is the result of a referral from the Watsonville Police Department to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Further Information:

Case #: CR 06-00385 JW

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at

Further procedural and docket information along with electronic court filings for criminal cases filed since February 2005 are available at (click on the link for “to retrieve documents from the court.”)

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Natalya LaBauve at (415) 436-7055 or by email at [email protected] .

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