by Pam Zubeck
DENVER – Yesterday Phinehas Lee McNeal, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore to serve 10 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of ammunition, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke announced. McNeal, who appeared at the hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion. On July 22, 2015, McNeal was found guilty following a jury trial of being a felon in possession of ammunition. He was acquitted of another charge. The defendant’s mother, Anne Marie McNeal, of Colorado Springs, was also convicted following a separate jury trial, held on October 22, 2015, of making a straw purchase of a firearm, namely buying a firearm for her son, Phinehas.
According to evidence presented during trial, and as outlined in a Sentencing Statement filed with the court, on November 29, 2014, Colorado Springs Police responded to a shoplifting incident at a Sportsman’s Warehouse. They found that Phinehas McNeal had been detained by the store for shoplifting arrowheads. While being detained, Phinehas McNeal was found to be in possession of two boxes of ammunition. He had a receipt showing he purchased the ammunition from the Sportsman’s Warehouse store. Evidence found during the subsequent investigation, including images from the store’s video surveillance system, clearly show the defendant purchasing the ammunition that he was found in possession of when detained.
The defendant’s mother was also taken into custody for obstructing officers. They both were taken to Colorado Springs Police Department for questioning. During the questioning, Ann Marie McNeal admitted to purchasing at least one of the firearms for Phinehas McNeal. During that period, law enforcement executed a search warrant at the mother, Anne Marie McNeal’s residence. Law enforcement found additional ammunition, and a number of firearms in Phinehas McNeal’s bedroom. It was determined during the investigation that Phinehas McNeal also purchased ammunition at a local Walmart. The defendant has at least four felony convictions, including two for felony menacing, one for possession of a firearm by a previous juvenile offender, and theft, all in El Paso County Court.
- Phinehas Lee McNeal is going to prison.
During a separate trial of the defendant’s mother, Anne Marie, before U.S. District Court Judge Moore, a jury found she had illegally purchased a firearm for her son. That conviction carries a maximum penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine. She is scheduled to be sentenced on January 14, 2016.
“This defendant was a convicted felon many times over and was prohibited from possessing ammunition by law many times over as well,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “This sentence should send a message to those convicted of felony violations of the law that even the possession of ammunition is a federal felony and can result in severe punishment.”
“McNeal had a long, violent criminal career that he was determined to continue,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke. “Illegally providing him a firearm was both dangerous and irresponsible on his mother’s part.”
This case was investigated by the Colorado Springs Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Both defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kurt Bohn and Jason St. Julien.