Sioux City Man Gets Six Years in Prison for Possessing a Loaded Gun After High Speed Chase

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SIOUX CITY, IOWA –  A convicted felon who unlawfully possessed a gun was sentenced January 20, 2021, to more than six years in federal prison.

Levi Bergenske, age 22, from Sioux City, Iowa, received the prison term after an August 26, 2020 guilty plea to one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.  Bergenske was previously convicted of theft 2nd degree and interference with official acts while armed with a dangerous weapon, both in Woodbury County, Iowa.

Evidence at Bergenske’s, change of plea and sentencing hearings revealed on January 17, 2019, law enforcement attempted to execute a stop of a vehicle driven by Bergenske.  At the time he had five outstanding warrants for his arrest in the state of Iowa and was, as subsequent tests confirmed, under the influence of marijuana and methamphetamine.  Bergenske refused to stop his vehicle and a high-speed vehicle pursuit ensued, at times exceeding speeds of 80 miles per hour on Floyd Boulevard and Outer Drive in Sioux City, Iowa.  He failed to stop at a red light, drove off the roadway, and at times, drove into oncoming lanesof traffic.  The Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT maneuver) was utilized by law enforcement on Hamilton Boulevard, which immobilized Bergenske’s vehicle against a concrete sign.  After Bergenske continued to resist arrest, officers utilized a baton to break the driver’s window, and extricate a still-combative Bergenske. Inside the car two handguns, ammunition, and 9 grams of methamphetamine were located.  A Subsequent  search of Bergenske’s home revealed a third handgun, ammunition, and another 22 grams of methamphetamine.

Bergenske has a significant criminal history. Twice before the instant offense, Bergenske violently resisted store employees’ attempts to stop him from committing a theft. He had illegally possessed a loaded firearm in the past as well.

Bergenske was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Bergenske was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.


Bergenske is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. The United States Attorney’s Office has prosecuted this case with support from the following Project Guardian partners: [list partners here]. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1217186/download.

The case was investigated by the Sioux City, Iowa Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.

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