California Man Alleged to Have Jumped into the Providence River to Flee East Providence Police Now Facing Federal Firearms Charge

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A California man arrested after he allegedly attempted to flee from East Providence Police on Wednesday by jumping off a bridge and into the Providence River made an initial appearance today before a federal Magistrate Judge on a charge of possession of firearms by a convicted felon, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

According to charging documents, it is alleged that late Wednesday afternoon the East Providence Police Department Special Investigations Unit (SIU) developed information about individuals posting pictures of firearms on Facebook and attempting to sell firearms within the city of East Providence. Members of the SIU determined where the individuals were located and established surveillance of a residence.

Charging documents allege that, about an hour after police established surveillance, a white Honda with heavy aftermarket dark tinting arrived and five individuals exited the building. One of the individuals, later identified through fingerprints as Joseph Darosa, 28, placed a suitcase in the trunk of the Honda, entered the vehicle as a passenger, and the car drove off. The other four individuals entered a second vehicle and left the area. East Providence Police followed the Honda onto Rte. 195 and initiated a traffic stop for a tinted window violation. As officers approached the vehicle, Darosa got out of the rear passenger side and jumped off a bridge and into the Providence River. With the assistance of Providence Police and Rhode Island State Police, Darosa was located along the shoreline and arrested about an hour later.

A court-authorized search of the suitcase seized from the trunk of the Honda was found to contain 14 handguns. The driver of the vehicle told police that he was a Lyft driver and that he was unaware of the contents of the suitcase.

According to court records, Darosa was previously convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of  California for distribution of methamphetamine. He was sentenced in May 2016 to a term of incarceration of 60 months and is currently serving a term of federal supervised release.

A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zechariah Chaffee.

United States Attorney Cunha thanks the ATF for their assistance in the investigation of the firearms and the filing of a federal criminal complaint, as well as the East Providence and Providence Police Departments and the Rhode Island State Police for their work in investigating and apprehending Darosa.

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.