United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces the return of an indictment by the grand jury against David P. Lawrence, 26, of Bradenton, and Mark Alan Finehout, 37, of Sarasota, for each being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Lawrence is also charged with possessing with the intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine.

This federal indictment stems from Lawrence’s arrest by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office during Operation Red Flag, and a joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Because Lawrence’s criminal history appears to qualify him as an Armed Career Criminal, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in federal prison for the firearms possession and a mandatory minimum of 10 years for the narcotics offense. If Finehout is convicted of the firearms offense, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

As Sheriff Tom Knight emphasized in the Operation Red Flag press conference May 15, Lawrence had 51 felony arrests and 40 misdemeanors but had never been to state prison. Now, he’s facing federal charges.

“These convicted felons were not only mocking the system locally but they were violating federal weapons laws,” said Sheriff Knight. “Sarasota County is safer today, because of the diligence of our deputies and the partnerships we have forged with state and federal law enforcement agencies.”

The federal case is being prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program – a nationwide, gun violence reduction strategy led by ATF which tactically focuses on felons with violent and serious drug trafficking convictions who are likely to unlawfully possess guns.