William James Rucker earns 17-year sentence for what was in his Crown Royal bag -- a gun

The item in William James Rucker's Crown Royal bag packed quite a kick -- maybe because it was manufactured by Smith & Wesson.

Rucker, who'd been convicted of five previous crimes punishable by over a year in stir, took imprisonment to the next level yesterday, when he was sentenced to seventeen years for firearms possession -- and his weapon was discovered in a highly unusual way. Seems that when he was checking into a hotel in Colorado Springs, he left a Crown Royal bag on the counter -- and when the staffer went to move it, he was surprised by how heavy it was. That is, until he discovered the silver handgun inside.

Clearly, liquor would have been quicker. Get more details below, courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office.


DENVER -- William James Rucker, age 35, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer to serve 210 months (over 17 years) in federal prison followed by 5 years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm, United States Attorney David Gaouette and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Special Agent in Charge John Ryan announced. Rucker, a five-time felon prior to this offense, appeared at the hearing in custody.

William James Rucker was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on June 9, 2009. A superseding indictment was obtained on November 16, 2009. His jury trial began on January 11, 2010. He was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm on January 12, 2010. The jury deliberated for just over an hour before reaching their verdict. He was sentenced on April 5, 2010.

According to information that came out during the trial as well as outlined in the government's Sentencing Statement, on May 11, 2009, Rucker, having been previously convicted of five separate crimes punishable by over a year imprisonment, did unlawfully and knowingly possess a firearm, namely a Smith & Wesson, Model M 60-7, .38 S&W SPL revolver. Specifically, Rucker went to an area hotel to rent a room, setting a Crown Royal bag on the hotel's counter. Rucker and his companion departed the lobby leaving the bag on the counter. A hotel staff member noticed the bag was heavier than normal, and then discovered a silver handgun inside.

Colorado Springs Police officers were called and then responded to the hotel. Rucker was arrested after attempting to leave the hotel parking lot with his companion in her vehicle. Once at the police station Rucker asked to talk to an ATF agent. The defendant ultimately admitted that he possessed the firearm, which was stolen. Rucker also admitted that he possessed the firearm outside a busy Colorado Springs bar.

The firearm was a Smith and Wesson .38 five-shot revolver. It was loaded with five live rounds of ammunition. Smith had five prior convictions in El Paso County, Colorado, including Assault 2 causing injury with a deadly weapon, possession of a controlled substance, possession/sale of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, attempted possession of a weapon by a previous offender, and criminal impersonation. It is a violation of federal law for a felon to possess a firearm or ammunition.

"Mr. Rucker is clearly a violent man," said ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge John Ryan. "The efforts of this investigative team quickly removed an armed violent offender from the streets of Colorado Springs."

This case was investigated by members of the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Project Safe Neighborhoods/Violent Crime Task Force, and the ATF Colorado Springs Field Office.

Rucker was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kurt Bohn and Ryan Bergsieker.