FRESNO, CALIFORNIA — Christopher Howard, 45, of Delano, and Liandro Romero Cuevas, 33, of Bakersfield, appeared in federal court this week after a grand jury returned separate indictments charging them with being felons in possession of a firearm and ammunition, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, on April 28, police officers encountered Howard in Delano while he was carrying a pouch bag that contained a loaded 9 mm handgun and an additional loaded high-capacity magazine. Howard cannot lawfully possess firearms or ammunition because he has sustained numerous felony convictions, including for possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, escape, and two second degree burglary convictions.
According to the indictment in a separate case, on Feb. 4, Cuevas possessed a Savage Arms 12‑gauge rifle in Kern County. Cuevas is prohibited from possessing firearms because he has sustained three felony convictions, including for assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and being a felon in possession of ammunition.
These cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Bakersfield and Delano Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Stokman and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the cases.
If convicted, Howard and Cuevas face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, 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.