Former Houston man sentenced on gun charges

December 18, 2013
Felix Cruz

A former Houston man was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to almost four years in prison for violating federal firearms laws.

Felix Jesus Cruz, 50, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond to serve 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm stemming from a Nov. 8, 2011, incident in McDonald. Cruz was prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm as a result of a prior felony conviction in New York for possession of a loaded firearm.

Cruz initially was arrested by McDonald police for allegedly threatening another man inside a bar with a gun. He also left a 21-month-old girl unattended inside a vehicle while he went inside the bar.

Police said Cruz racked the gun and placed a 9mm round on the bar, telling the bartender to give it to another man when he came into the establishment.

That arrest prompted an investigation into Cruz by state and federal authorities. A search warrant was served on Cruz in the summer of 2011 at the now-closed Sunoco station on Houston-Hill Church Road in North Strabane Township, said state Trooper Timothy Motte. The gas station was managed by Cruz. At the station, investigators found a pistol, two semiautomatic rifles with high-capacity magazines, another rifle and a shotgun, along with 1,290 rounds of ammunition. Cruz also allegedly threatened to kill Motte.

Some of the firearms Cruz possessed were unlawfully “straw purchased” for him by others who could pass background checks.

In addition to storing the guns at his workplace, Cruz allegedly was distributing the drug known as “K2” or “spice” from the gas station.

Cruz already is serving a 2 1/2-to-5-year sentence in a state correctional institution after pleading guiklty in May 2012 to charges of carrying a firearm without a license and terroristic threats filed by McDonald police .

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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