KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A man from St. Joseph, Mo., was convicted today in federal court of unlawful possession of a firearm.
Earl B. Penn, 31, was sentenced by US Chief District Judge Beth Phillips to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Penn was convicted as a career gun felon due to his previous felony convictions.
On August 31, 2022, Penn was found guilty at trial by felony possession of a firearm. Evidence presented during the trial indicated that Penn was in possession of a 9mm Taurus semi-automatic pistol on June 22, 2020.
A St. Joseph Police Department detective and patrol officer contacted Penn, who had an outstanding warrant on his federal supervised release violations, on June 22, 2020. Penn gave a false name and attempted to flee before to fight with the officers and resist. to be arrested. Penn hit the officer in the face several times with the back of the head and managed to get the OC spray out of the officer’s vest. The detective had to physically remove the OC spray from Penn’s hand to stop him from discharging it.
After Penn was detained, the detective saw the loaded gun in Penn’s sweatshirt case. Trial testimony indicated that during nearly the entire fight with law enforcement, Penn’s right hand was under his body where his gun was stored.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to possess firearms or ammunition. Penn has a prior criminal record for home burglary, arson, conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and cocaine, and illegal carrying of a loaded gun.
This case was being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon E. Gibson, who is a designated prosecutor by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office as part of the Safer Streets initiative to combat violent crime, and Assistant United States Attorney Joseph M. Marquez. He was investigated by the St. Joseph, Missouri Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Safe Neighborhoods Project
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and serving communities to reduce violent crime and gun violence and make our neighborhoods safer for all. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy by strengthening the NSP based on these core principles: Promote trust and legitimacy in our communities, Support community-based organizations that help prevent violence in the first place place, establish targeted and strategic objectives implementation priorities and measurement of results.