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United States v. Pledge

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

December 2, 2014


For Tony Ray Pledge, Defendant: Max Samuel Wolson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Federal Public Defender's Office, Cedar Rapids, IA.

For USA, Plaintiff: Ravi Teekay Narayan, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Cedar Rapids, IA.



On the 1st day of December, 2014, this matter came on for hearing on the Government's request to have the Defendant detained prior to trial. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Ravi T. Narayan. The Defendant appeared personally and was represented by his attorney, Jill M. Johnston.


On November 18, 2014, Defendant Tony Ray Pledge was charged by Indictment (docket number 2) with possession of a firearm by a felon (Count 1) and possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun (Count 2). At the arraignment on November 21, 2014, Defendant entered a plea of not guilty and trial was scheduled before Chief Judge Linda R. Reade on January 26, 2015.

Cedar Rapids Police Officer John O'Brien, who is currently assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, testified regarding the circumstances underlying these charges. On June 18, 2013, officers responded to a report of an assault with a firearm outside a bar. An investigation led officers to conduct a traffic stop near Defendant's residence. The two occupants of the vehicle had reportedly gone into Defendant's residence and it was believed that they may have left guns in the residence. There is no evidence Defendant was involved in the original disturbance, and he was not in the car when it was stopped by officers. Defendant was standing outside his residence, however, and was questioned by the police.

Officer O'Brien testified that Defendant was cooperative with police. When he was asked whether there were any firearms inside his residence, Defendant initially responded that he was a felon and firearms were not allowed in his residence. After additional questioning, however, Defendant admitted that there was a sawed-off shotgun in a green bag in his bedroom. According to Defendant, it had been dropped off by his Godson three or four months earlier.

At the request of investigators, Defendant then went to the Cedar Rapids Police Department to be interviewed. In a recorded interview, Defendant admitted that the shotgun was in his bedroom and advised officers as to where it could be found. Officers then obtained a search warrant, which revealed a sawed-off shotgun in a green bag located in the corner of Defendant's bedroom. Also in his bedroom was a scale and a grinder with marijuana residue. Special Agent Tim Hunt would testify that the shotgun was manufactured outside the State of Iowa, required registration because of its short barrel, and was not registered in compliance with the National Firearms Act.

Defendant is 47 years old. He was born in Tennessee, but has lived most of his life in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His mother and four siblings all reside in this area. Defendant was married for approximately six years, but was divorced ten years ago. One child (age 13) was born to the marriage and lives with her mother in Cedar Rapids. Defendant also has four other children (ages 22, 20, 13, and 8) from separate relationships.

For the past year, Defendant has lived with his mother and stepfather in Cedar Rapids. He would return to that home if released. For the past eight months, Defendant has been employed as a cook at Heinz Quality Chef in Cedar Rapids. Prior to that time, he was self-employed as a barber. Defendant is in good health and has no history of mental or emotional health issues.

Defendant admitted that since age 15 he has smoked marijuana on a daily basis, when he is not incarcerated, and that he last smoked marijuana on March 5, 2014. Defendant told the pretrial services officer that he completed an outpatient treatment program through ASAC.

Defendant has an extensive prior criminal record. He was initially sent to prison at age 18 following a conviction for burglary in the second degree. His parole was revoked twice and he was returned a third time following an escape. At age 25, Defendant was sent back to prison on four drug charges. Once again, Defendant's parole was revoked twice. He was finally paroled in September 2004, having spent a substantial period of time since 1986 in prison. Defendant has also been convicted 3 times for drunk driving and 13 times for driving while suspended or barred (not including charges for driving while suspended which were dismissed in conjunction with his OWIs). In addition, Defendant has been convicted of assault (twice), interference with official acts, providing false identification, violating a no contact order, and possession of controlled substances (three times).

Many of Defendant's convictions occurred while he was on parole, probation, or while charges were pending. Defendant's third OWI charge came six days after he was sentenced on his second OWI charge. Since the events which give rise to the instant charges on June 18, 2013, Defendant has been arrested six times, with convictions for driving while barred (times three), possession of marijuana (times two), and a violation of a no contact order. On September 29, 2014, Defendant was located by the High Risk Unit of the Iowa Department of Corrections at a neighbor's house at 1:30 a.m., where he had locked himself in the bathroom. He tested positive for ...

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