Voznesenka man gets 6 years in federal prison on gun charges

A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Voznesenka man convicted of being a felon in possession of firearms to six years in prison.

Joseph Kuzmin, 42, had been found guilty by an Anchorage federal jury at a trial in November 2017.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said that at the sentencing hearing, Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess found “the most important goal of sentencing was to protect other people in the community from Kuzmin, who has a long criminal history, including offenses committed against family members, fisherman on his boat and other boats, and strangers.” Kuzmin could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

In a March 2017 federal indictment, a grand jury alleged Kuzmin possessed a Ruger model 10/22 .22-caliber rifle and a Ruger model M77 .300-caliber rifle as well as ammunition for the rifles. Kuzmin has three felony convictions, all Homer charges in state court, including a 2006 offense for third-degree assault, and two 2009 offenses for driving under the influence and refusal to submit to a chemical test. Kuzmin also has numerous misdemeanor charges and convictions.

The firearms charge came about when Alaska State Troopers on Dec. 29, 2016, responded to a 911 call of a domestic violence assault at an East End Road home in Voznesenka. In charging documents, Sgt. Daniel Cox, head of the Anchor Point Trooper Post, wrote that the caller claimed Kuzmin, a relative, choked him. The alleged victim, a young man, lives with his mother in Oregon and had been visiting Kuzmin for the Christmas holiday. He told troopers that at about 9 p.m. on Dec. 28 Kuzmin yelled at him, grabbed him by the head and shook him.

At Kuzmin’s federal trial, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonas Walker, the jury heard testimony that Kuzmin assaulted the man, threatened to shoot him, another relative and any police officers who responded.

Under federal law, people wishing to purchase firearms from licensed dealers must be screened through a National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. If the system worked properly, the NICS should have shown that Kuzmin was a convicted felon and he would not have been able to buy firearms from a licensed dealer.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, firearms and Explosives recommends that people buying firearms from a private seller get an NICS background check through a licensed dealer, said Jason Chudy, ATF public information officer, Seattle.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.