Providence men sentenced to state prison for possessing illegal guns
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that two Providence men were sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) in separate cases stemming from their arrests by the Providence Police Department in 2020 for possessing illegal handguns.
On October 15, 2021, Mark Chez (age 26) was found guilty by a jury of carrying a pistol without a permit following a three-day trial before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers.
At a hearing on January 19, 2022, the Court sentenced defendant Chez to serve two years at the ACI, followed by an eight-year suspended sentence with probation.
The defendant had been held without bail at the ACI following the return of the guilty verdict through his sentencing date.
On January 11,2022, Jose Lopez Rivera (age 31) entered a plea of nolo contendere to possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and carrying a pistol without a license.
At a hearing before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers, the Court sentenced the defendant to 10 years at the ACI, with three years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.
“The proliferation of illegal firearms among criminals has never been greater, resulting in ever-increasing risks to public safety and to members of law enforcement. These two cases involved the illegal possession of firearms and, while they did not involve actual acts of violence, it should come as no surprise that when criminals possess guns, they also have the willingness to use them,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Here, the Providence Police were able to intervene first, and I remain grateful for their outstanding work and partnership with this Office as we proactively work to reduce gun violence.”
“I commend the members of the Providence Police for their investigation into this incident and their quick work to apprehend the defendant involved, who had the serious potential to engage in violence and impose harm to innocent members of our community,” said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. “Removing illegal firearms from the hands of criminals is an ongoing priority to our officers and I thank the Office of the Attorney General for their continued support and prosecution of this case.”
During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that during the evening on May 30, 2020, the defendant was arrested by the Providence Police department, following a foot chase, while he was in possession of an illegal handgun.
At around 10:45 p.m. that evening, officers on patrol observed the defendant traveling as a passenger in a vehicle on Eudora Street. The defendant was known to law enforcement as a self- proclaimed member of a local gang and, at the time, the subject of several active warrants for his arrest.
After noticing the officers, the vehicle that the defendant was traveling in came to a stop and the defendant exited the vehicle and ran away. Officers observed the defendant clutching an object in the front pocket of his sweatshirt as he exited the vehicle and fled.
Officers gave chase to the defendant on foot as he ran underneath the I-95 overpass on Public Street. While he was running under the overpass, the defendant discarded an object that appeared to be a firearm.
The defendant then hopped over a fence and ran across all lanes of I-95 North and South, leaving the highway in the vicinity of Bay Street. Officers were able apprehend the defendant shortly thereafter on Bay Street.
Following the chase, officers found the discarded firearm under the overpass, a Ruger SR40c .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun loaded with nine bullets.
The defendant faces additional charges, including breaking and entering, domestic simple assault, and illegal possession of a gun, in cases that are currently pending in Providence County Superior Court.
Sergeant Brian Murphy and Investigator Daryl Pfeiffer of the Providence Police Department and Assistant Attorney General Daniel C. Guglielmo of the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Jose Lopez Rivera
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the evening of May 2, 2020, the defendant was arrested by the Providence Police Department while he was in possession of an illegal handgun following reports of shots fired on Harriet Street in the city.
At around 10:30 p.m. that evening, officers responded to a report of shots fired on Harriet Street where witnesses described that an individual fired a gun into the air before driving off in a silver Honda coupe followed by a blue sedan.
In response, officers patrolled the area looking for the suspect, and approximately 15 minutes later found several individuals hanging around the silver Honda coupe and blue sedan parked in front of a home on Louisa Street. Officers observed the defendant walking along the side of the front porch of the home away from them. When officers illuminated the area of the side of the porch where the defendant had previously been, they found a Ruger Wrangler .22 LR revolver loaded with five bullets and one spent cartridge.
Officers arrested the defendant and transported him to central station where he later admitted to possessing the pistol before discarding it.
Under Rhode Island law, individuals convicted of crimes of violence are prohibited from possessing firearms. The defendant was previously convicted of domestic simple assault in 2017.
Investigators Robert Foley and Jonathan Smith of the Providence Police Department and Special Assistant Attorney General Jillian Dubois of the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the case.