Fitchburg convicted felon who shot man, facing new firearms charge

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BOSTON – A Fitchburg man was charged today with being a felon in possession of a 10 mm Glock pistol.

Joel Polanco, 32, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Polanco is currently in state custody and will make an initial appearance in federal court at a later date. The defendant allegedly shot his victim in the leg in October 2020 in Fitchburg

On Oct. 24, 2020, Polanco was arrested after police responded to the area of Snow and Cherry Streets in Fitchburg following a report of a person suffering a gunshot wound to the leg. A witness reported seeing someone fitting Polanco’s description shoot the victim. In addition, surveillance videos showed a person fitting Polanco’s description carrying what appeared to be the black fanny-pack and holding an item in his hand that appeared to be a gun. According to the charging documents, Polanco shot the victim using a 10 mm Glock pistol that was later recovered from a black fanny-pack in the area of Snow Street.

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Polanco is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a March 2011 conviction in Worcester federal court of being a felon in possession of ammunition and distribution of cocaine base.


The charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Kelly Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Boston Field Division; and Fitchburg Police Chief Ernst Martineau made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Mulcahy of Lelling’s Worcester Branch Office is prosecuting the case.

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This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. PSN is part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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