Multi-agency law enforcement effort results in longer prison terms for violent felons

Jim Guy (Fresno Bee) | February 13, 2014

A combined federal, state and local effort against gun crime is putting more violent felons in prison for longer terms, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said Thursday during a joint news conference with Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.

Project Safe Neighborhoods, which targets gun violence, led to federal firearms charges against 34 defendants in Fresno city and county as well as six more in Madera and Tulare counties in 2013, Wagner said. The area around Fresno is under special scrutiny by the task force, made up of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, police, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and other agencies. Successful prosecutions of violent gun felons at the federal level usually results in longer prison sentences because there is no parole and those convicted serve at least 85% of their sentences. The news conference was also attended by Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan and Joseph Riehl of ATF.

Dyer said the task force’s message is getting through to violent gang members and others who commit gun crimes. He cited the case of a gang member sentenced to a lengthy prison term who said, “Your honor, I can’t do that much time.”

“Do the best you can,” the federal judge countered.

Fresnan Shalander Givens, 39, was recently handed a 205-year sentence after being convicted of a June 2010 drive-by shooting that wounded Antonio Skinner and his 10-year-old daughter, who was shot in the head.

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Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / AP

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