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Wilmington man sentenced to 17.5 years on gun charge

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A federal judge has sentenced a Wilmington man to 17.5 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon.

The US Attorney's Office says Irving Bennerman, 47, was sentenced as an armed career criminal with three previous convictions for violent crimes.

Prosecutors say in May 2013 law enforcement got a tip that Bennerman tried to sell an assault rifle out of the trunk of a car in Wilmington's Jervay Housing Community. When officers responded they found Bennerman with two other people near a car. Officers got consent from the driver to search the car. In the trunk they found a semi-automatic rifle, 10 large capacity magazines that could hold 30 round each and more than 400 rounds of ammunition.

The other people told investigators they had driven Bennerman to a house in Jacksonville, where he got the rifle, according to prosecutors. They said they drove back to Wilmington, where Bennerman tried to sell the rifle to people on the street.

Investigators say the rifle was stolen from Jacksonville. The owner identified Bennerman as a friend, who knew about the rifle.

North Carolina Department of Corrections records show Bennerman's criminal history includes convictions for gun and drug charges, among others.

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