Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber has sentenced James Blanks (27, Fort Myers) to 12 months in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, to be served consecutively to a 4-year state prison sentence he is currently serving. The court also ordered Blanks to forfeit the firearm and ammunition possessed during the offense. Blanks had pleaded guilty on May 4, 2023.
According to court records, on the night of October 30, 2020, officers from the Fort Myers Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle being driven by Blanks. Blanks initially stopped his vehicle on a grassy shoulder but as officers began to exit their vehicle, Blanks sped away from them. As Blanks continued fleeing from law enforcement, he rear-ended another vehicle and lost control of his own vehicle, ultimately crashing it into a concrete utility pole off the roadway. Officers arriving at the scene detained Blanks and located a loaded Smith & Wesson pistol protruding from under the driver’s seat of his vehicle.
Blanks was previously convicted on state charges of aggravated fleeing to elude law enforcement. Therefore, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law. He will begin serving his federal sentence upon release from state prison.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Fort Myers Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon R. Eth.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.