SARASOTA -- A Bradenton man indicted on federal weapons and drug charges faces up to life in prison as an "armed career criminal," if convicted, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
David P. Lawrence, 26, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and five counts of possessing with the intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine, according to a news release.
The charges stem from Lawrence's arrest during the Sarasota sheriff's office's Operation Red Flag and a joint investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"Because Lawrence's criminal history appears to qualify him as an armed career criminal, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in federal prison for the firearms possession and a mandatory minimum of 10 years for the narcotics offense," the release states.
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In announcing Lawrence's arrest last month, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight noted that Lawrence had 51 prior felony arrests and 40 for misdemeanors but had never been to state prison.
Also indicted was Mark Alan Finehout, 37, of Sarasota, for each being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, if convicted.
According to the indictment, Lawrence and Finehout are each charged with possessing a .40 caliber Taurus pistol on April 17. Lawrence is also charged with possessing an SKS rifle on April 18, and possessing with the intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine on April 19, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.
“These convicted felons were not only mocking the system locally but they were violating federal weapons laws,” Knight said.. “Sarasota County is safer today, because of the diligence of our deputies and the partnerships we have forged with state and federal law enforcement agencies.”
The federal case is being prosecuted as a part of the U.S. Department of Justice "Project Safe Neighborhoods" program targeting felons who possess guns.