Convicted felon pleads guilty to firearm possession during civil unrest

Crime
Matthew Frezza

A Richmond judge has denied bond to Matthew Frezza, a man who was arrested and charged with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon after an encounter near the Robert E. Lee statue last week. (photo courtesy of the Richmond City Jail)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A 37-year-old Chesterfield man with previous felony convictions pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge related to his possession of an assault rifle, handgun, ballistic vest and eight magazines of ammunition, according to a release from United States Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger. Matthew Lee Frezza had these weapons on him while riding in a pickup truck around the Robert E. Lee Monument during a period of civil unrest on June 12.

According to the release, Richmond police officers had observed the truck Frezza was in and two others driving recklessly around in the vicinity of the monument. The police engaged the truck in a traffic stop based on the reckless driving. RPD officers found Frezza and three other occupants armed with firearms, including assault rifles. 8News previously reported there were three different traffic stops done that night and multiple people were taken into custody.

Frezza was identified as a felon on the scene and placed under arrest. The firearm in his posession was a Taurus, Model G3, 9mm caliber, semi-automatic pistol. The assault rifle was later determined to be a homemade rifle without a serial number, which contained a loaded, high-capacity magazine.

“Firearms in the possession of a convicted felon are always a public safety concern, but especially so when multiple weapons are recovered during a potentially volatile situation, such as civil unrest,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Washington Field Division.

Frezza pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

“This defendant’s guilty plea confirms that the unlawful possession of a firearm is a serious offense and we are grateful to U.S. Attorney Terwilliger and our law enforcement partners in Richmond for this successful outcome,” Benedict said.

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