Federal weapons charge filed against suspect with long criminal history – including bank robberies

Stock image | Photo by TheaDesign/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A traffic stop on Interstate 15 in Washington County led to the arrest of a California man who faces a federal weapons charge. This is one more case amid a long history of crimes for which the suspect has spent decades in federal prison.

2019 file photo of 5th District Court where federal hearings are held, St. George, Utah, August, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

59-year-old Anthony Ray Ford of Oakland, California has been charged in federal court with one felony count of felon in possession of a firearm, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court this week.

The charge was filed following a traffic stop that took place on May 30, when a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy noticed an orange passenger car weaving in between lanes as it headed north on Interstate 15.

The deputy stopped the car at mile marker 24, just south of Toquerville, and noticed two occupants as he approached the vehicle. While speaking with the driver, later identified by his California Driver’s License as Ford, the officer noted he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car.

A K-9 deputy arrived and both the driver and passenger were asked to step out of the car so a search could be conducted.

In a compartment on the driver’s side door officers located a vape pen containing suspected marijuana and inside of the center console, the officer found a pill bottle labeled “Super Lactose,” but when he opened it, the report states, he found a white ball of powder wrapped in a plastic baggie. He also found two straws with a white powdery residue on them.

The report also states that during a search of the trunk, deputies located a Bersa .380 handgun with a live round in the magazine.

Ford told police that everything in the vehicle belonged to him, including the firearm, but when asked about the pill bottle, the suspect claimed ownership of the container but said “it was not cocaine,” the deputy noted in the report.

A field test of the substance later revealed it was presumptive positive for cocaine.

During a records check, officers learned that Ford was a convicted felon, which prohibited him from possessing a handgun. As deputies were placing the suspect under arrest, Ford said “he was going away for a long time,” the deputy noted.

2019 file photo of Washington County Sheriff’s deputies on state Route 18 after a vehicle pursuit near Dammeron Valley, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2019 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The suspect went on to tell authorities “If I am ever let out, I will get a gun and kill someone,” the officer recounted in the report.

At the jail, the suspect continued similar statements and said he had access to “a lot of guns,” and he would “commit a massacre if he is let out,” the officer added.

Ford was booked into jail facing one count of a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, each a misdemeanor.

With the federal case being filed, the charges filed in 5th District Court will likely be dropped.

The suspect was flagged as a felon during the records check due to having multiple felony cases when the stop took place – several of which were federal cases – including four bank robberies.

One such case was filed federal court in California in 2009 when Ford was charged with, and convicted of, three counts of bank robbery.

In that case, the suspect admitted to robbing three banks in Northern California between December 2008 and January 2009. Details relating to only two of the bank robberies could be located during a review of court records.

The first was reported on the afternoon of December 26, 2008 when Ford entered a Citibank branch in Walnut Creek, California where he approached the teller and demanded all of the money, saying he had a gun and threatened to shoot the employee if they failed to comply.

The teller handed over the cash drawer and he fled the bank on foot with more than $9,300.

On Jan. 17, 2009 the suspect entered a Bank of America branch in San Leandro, California shortly before noon and approached the teller with the same demands, telling the bank employee “I will shoot your face” if they failed to comply.

The suspect was handed all of the money from the cash drawer which he stuffed in the pocket of his sweatshirt and fled the bank on foot with nearly $11,200.

Five days later, detectives working the San Leandro case found a photo of Ford during a review of inmates recently released from federal prison – a photo that bore a striking resemblance to the suspect in the surveillance footage taken during the Citibank robbery.

He then contacted a federal investigator to discuss the case and said the photo also matched the suspect in the Walnut Creek robbery. Later, both tellers positively identified Ford as the suspect responsible after picking him out in a photo array.

United States Prison in Lompoc, California, where Anthony Ford was incarcerated for several years for bank robbery | Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Prisons, St. George News

The inmate photo was taken while Ford was serving a 15 year sentence in federal prison on a 1992 case in which Ford was charged with, and convicted of bank robbery. He was sentenced to serve 210 months in prison and placed on 5 years’ supervision.

He was released in 2007 and after a series of parole violations he was ordered to surrender to U.S. Marshalls by Feb. 9, 2009, but by then he was also being sought by the FBI on the three current bank robberies, court records revealed.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the charges and in March 2009, he was sentenced to serve 84 months in federal prison on each count and placed on 3 years’ post-prison supervision once released.

During his sentence he was charged with escape from federal custody in December 2015, for which he was sentenced to serve an additional twelve months. Ford was released in early 2017, then remained on supervision until March of last year, amid the added escape case and multiple federal warrants and arrests that ensued.

At a detention hearing held in federal court on Tuesday, the suspect appeared before Magistrate Judge Paul Kohler who ordered that Ford remain in custody. Kohler also ordered that any future detention hearings involving Ford be held in his courtroom.

Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained. 

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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