Breckenridge Texan

Sheriff’s Office investigation leads to federal indictment, arrest

Sheriff’s Office investigation leads to federal indictment, arrest
November 29
16:04 2017

The Stephens County Sheriff’s Office joined forces with the federal government to take a convicted bank robber off the streets.

Michael Perales, who lived briefly in Breckenridge earlier this year, was arrested in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Wednesday, Nov. 22, for federal charges related to being a felon in possession of stolen firearms. He had been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Abilene earlier in the month.

The case stems from the reported theft of several firearms that were stolen from a house in the Crystal Falls area of Stephens County.

According to a news release by the SCSO, within days of the theft report, the sheriff’s office had developed leads that Perales was in possession of the firearms and was trying to sell them. At the time, he was on federal probation for bank robbery and had recently moved to Breckenridge with his girlfriend, who has ties to the community.

In early October, the sheriff’s department obtained arrest warrants for Perales for being a felon in unlawful possession of firearms, and he was arrested on Oct. 10.

Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt said that Perales was on federal probation at the time of his arrest in Breckenridge but that he was supposed to be living in another town.

“He decided to break those rules, and he and his girlfriend moved here because of her ties,” Holt said. “They had only been here a month or two before we got on his trail. After we arrested him, we let his federal probation officer know he was living in Breckenridge.”

Following the arrest, Perales bonded out of jail, and he and his girlfriend left Breckenridge, the sheriff said.

“They moved back to the town he was on file as living at and started residing there to get back in good graces with the feds; of course, it was too late then,” Holt said.

The local law enforcement contacted Perales’ federal probation officer and the ATF to see if they would be interested in taking the case, given Perales’ lengthy criminal history and prior convictions on the federal level.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Abilene indicted him and will prosecute the case, and the ATF made the actual arrest, Holt said.

The sheriff explained that when his department gets arrest warrants against a suspect, the charges are for offenses against the State of Texas. However, whenever a federal agency picks up the case, the charges are considered federal charges.

“They may read very similarly, but those are new charges because they are federal level not the state level,” Holt said. “Typically what happens, but not always, is when a federal agency and an Assistant U.S. Attorney agree to accept federal charges, then we suspend the state charges pending a conviction on the federal level. If for some reason the federal charges were dropped or a not guilty verdict is found on the federal level, then the person could be charged on a state level.”

Many local agencies contact the federal government because federal charges often result in convicted criminals serving longer prison sentences, Holt said. Because of prison overcrowding, many states let criminals out of prison after they have served only a portion of their sentence. “Whereas on the Federal level, if they get 10 years, they actually serve nine or 10 of that,” he said. “That’s not the only reason, but that’s a big reason why a local agency will go federally with their local charges.”

At this time, the case against Perales is progressing on the federal level.

“My agency is the one that did all the leg work from early October through early November, and that led to the federal indictment of him. The case will be tried in federal court,” Holt said. “Basically we put together our case like we normally would, and then we communicate with the feds on what we have. We send them all the documents, all the reports, all the evidence we have and they decide whether they want to pick up the case. After that it’s mostly administrative.”

Perales is still in custody in a federal holding facility in the DFW Metroplex, where he will stay until there’s a disposition on the new charges. According to Holt, his probation for the prior federal charges has been revoked.

According to the news release, other aspects of the investigation are ongoing.

 

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

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