116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal judge this week sentenced an Illinois man to just over seven years in federal prison for possessing a gun and drugs inside a Walmart in Cedar Rapids.
A federal jury found Sylvester Cunningham, 41, of Blue Island, guilty after a two-day trial in July.
Cunningham was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possessing crack and powder cocaine with the intent to distribute, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams on Tuesday sentenced Cunningham to 87 months in prison, recommending he serve his term in the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., and participate in a substance abuse treatment program, according to court documents.
After Cunningham is released, he will be on supervised release for five years.
At around 11 a.m. Aug. 7, 2020, Cunningham entered the Walmart on 29th Avenue SW in a wheelchair. He moved from his wheelchair to an electric shopping cart.
A store employee, who was helping Cunningham look for a lost cellphone, lifted the cushion of the wheelchair and saw a gun, according to evidence shown at trial.
The employee alerted an off-duty Cedar Rapids police officer who was providing security at the store, and the officer retrieved the .357-caliber revolver.
Police arrested Cunningham after learning he was on federal supervised release for an earlier gun charge. Cunningham had two previous felony convictions.
Police also found 13 baggies of crack and powder cocaine in Cunningham’s clothing when they searched him.
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