Norwich Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearm Charge

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

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JAMES BAKER, 36, of Norwich, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Kari A. Dooley in Bridgeport to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on February 3, 2021, Norwich Police stopped Baker for a motor vehicle violation and subsequently found a loaded, .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol under the driver’s seat of the vehicle, and more than 600 bags of fentanyl on his person.

Baker’s criminal history includes state felony convictions for assault, burglary, weapon and drug offenses.  It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.

Judge Dooley scheduled sentencing for September 27, at which time Baker faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

Baker has been detained since February 3, 2021.

This investigation has been conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Norwich Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Natasha M. Freismuth through the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program.

PSN, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts, 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.