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Duluth man arrested on airport tarmac indicted on federal gun charge

A Duluth man is facing a minimum of 15 years in federal prison after being indicted by a grand jury of a gun charge in his December arrest on the airfield of the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing.

A federal jury last week indicted 52-year-old Jeffrey Jerome Hoff on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants Hoff convicted as an “armed career criminal,” which requires a minimum prison sentence of 15 years.

The grand jury returned the indictment last week, and Hoff was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Hoff pleaded not guilty to the charge, and a jury trial was scheduled for June 23 in the Twin Cities.

At the time of the indictment, Hoff had already been charged in state District Court with multiple felonies for the Dec. 26 incident. Authorities said Hoff stole more than a dozen guns from a residence and led officers on a car and foot chase that ended on the airfield.

He was charged on Dec. 30 with five felonies, three of which have since been dismissed by the prosecution. He pleaded not guilty in February to the remaining charges, first-degree burglary and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle. That trial is scheduled for June 10.

According to the criminal complaint, a Rice Lake Township man called 911 to report that his truck had been stolen and 14 guns were missing from his home.

Authorities spotted a truck matching the description given by the man and followed it at high speeds. The truck then crashed into a barricade near the Duluth International Airport, and the driver ran east through the woods, according to the complaint.

Military security guards saw a man, later identified as Hoff, climb over a fence and enter a restricted airport runway area, according to the charges. With guns drawn, officers from numerous agencies took Hoff into custody on the tarmac. The crashed truck was searched, and officers found the 14 stolen guns and other missing property, according to the complaint.

In the federal indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that Hoff has been convicted of eight counts of first- or second-degree burglary in Minnesota since 1984, making him ineligible to possess a firearm. Under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, anyone who has been convicted of a “violent felony” three or more times is subject to a minimum of 15 years in prison.