Providence man sentenced to serve 7 years in state prison for possessing illegal guns and drug trafficking

Published on Monday, December 13, 2021

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Providence man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve seven years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) stemming from his 2021 arrest by the Providence Police Department for possessing illegal guns and drug trafficking.

One of the illegal guns is tied to a major firearms trafficking case investigated by the Office of the Attorney General, Providence Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, firearms, and Explosives (ATF) involving a straw purchasing scheme to sell 89 illegal guns.

Wilson Gonzales (age 21) entered a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of possession of a pistol without a license, two counts of possession of a firearm after being convicted of a crime of violence, and one count of possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

At a hearing on December 1, 2021, before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers, the Court sentenced the defendant to 15 years at the ACI with seven years to serve and eight years suspended with probation.

“This case is another example of why this Office and our law enforcement partners are proactively focusing on those who drive gun violence, and on straw purchasers in particular. This defendant, an armed drug dealer, by law couldn’t buy a gun himself, and he knew it. So, he got someone else to do it for him, and took that gun to the street,” said Attorney General Neronha.  “The straw purchaser who bought this defendant the gun faces the consequences of his conduct. And this defendant will now serve a well-deserved lengthy state prison sentence, which will no doubt make Rhode Island residents safer. I am grateful to the men and women of the Providence Police Department for their continued fine work.”

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the evening of January 5, 2021, Providence Police Violent Crime Task Force investigators arrested the defendant, following a foot chase, for possessing an illegal pistol. Investigators also executed a warrant at his home on Lisbon Street and seized an additional illegal gun, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia.

That evening, investigators encountered the defendant on Berkley Street, where he abruptly turned and ran away while clutching an object in his sweatshirt. The defendant was known to investigators as a self-proclaimed member of the Get Money Family (GMF) gang and a suspect in an ongoing investigation.

Investigators pursued him on foot through the yard of a home on Lisbon Street. During the pursuit, investigators saw the defendant toss away an item before they apprehended him in a neighboring yard.

Investigators subsequently located the item discarded by the defendant – a Smith and Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol loaded with six bullets plus one bullet in the chamber. Investigators later identified the gun as having been purchased by Rashaan Mangum in 2020.

Following the arrest of the defendant, later that evening, investigators executed a search warrant at his home on Lisbon Street and seized a Sig Sauer .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol loaded with five bullets plus one bullet in the chamber; 68 rounds of various calibers of ammunition; and drug paraphernalia containing cocaine residue.

Under Rhode Island law, individuals convicted of crimes of violence are prohibited from possessing firearms. The defendant was previously convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon in 2019.

“Our officers involved in this investigation have once again shown that criminals who continue to choose a life surrounded by illegal gun and drug violence will be apprehended and prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law,” said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. “I commend our partners at the RI Attorney General’s Office and the members of the Providence Police Department for their investigation and prosecution of this case.”

Detective Matthew McGloin, and Investigators Robert Foley and Jonathan Smith of the Providence Police Department and Assistant Attorney General Joseph J. McBurney of the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the case.