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Pawtucket man sentenced to serve 1 year in state prison on illegal firearm charge

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Pawtucket man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve one year at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI), stemming from his arrest in March 2020 by the Providence Police Department for carrying a pistol without a permit.

Giovanni Depina (age 20) entered a plea of nolo contendere to carrying a pistol without a permit.

At a hearing on July 27, 2021, before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers, the court sentenced Depina to five years at the ACI with one year to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.

"Traveling the streets of Providence with a loaded gun presents a danger to residents and law enforcement alike. While it is impossible to know the defendant's intentions regarding the firearm he had hidden under his seat, the fact is, he had ready access to it, he was mobile, and his mobility was disguised by the lack of headlight use. When a defendant presents such potential danger, even a defendant as young as this one, a period of incarceration is plainly warranted," said Attorney General Neronha. "I am grateful to the Providence Police Department officers who acted so quickly to resolve a dangerous situation."

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the early morning hours of March 8, 2020, Depina was arrested by Providence Police officers for carrying a pistol without a permit following a vehicle stop on Broad Street.

Early that morning, officers pulled over a vehicle with three occupants that was traveling without any headlights on. During the stop, officers smelled marijuana and Depina, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, admitted that he had marijuana in his possession.

During a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers seized a loaded SCCY CPX-2 9mm pistol under Depina's seat. Depina later admitted to officers that he owned the pistol.

"Individuals who possess and circulate illegal firearms present a serious threat of violence to the public and removing guns from our streets is top priority to the members of the Providence Police Department," said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. "This arrest serves as one of the many examples of the outstanding work that our officers do each day to better ensure safety within our community. I commend the officers involved in this apprehension and thank the Office of the Attorney General for their prosecution of this case and for continued dedication toward eliminating illegal firearms from our streets and keeping them out of the hands of violent and dangerous criminals."

Special Assistant Attorney General Gregory Abilheira of the Office of the Attorney General and the Providence Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.

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