Father of child robbery suspect pleads guilty to federal charge

Father of child robbery suspect pleads guilty to federal charge
Joseph Charlton

PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland father pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal firearms charge, after his son and another boy allegedly used his gun in an attempted robbery.

The trouble for Joseph Charlton began on Dec. 8 when investigators say two young boys - a 7-year-old and an 11-year-old - approached a woman in the parking lot of a church and tried to steal her truck.

Investigators say when the victim, Amy Garrett, refused, the two boys demanded she hand over her wallet and phone. Garrett said the 11-year-old boy, who was holding the gun, threatened her.

"He said it was fully loaded and cocked and ready to go," Garrett said. "He told me he was going to blow my brains out if I didn't give him anything."

The boys didn't get anything from the woman and when police got there they tried to run away. But officers caught up to them and said they found a cocked and loaded handgun in the 11-year-old boy's pocket.

A few days later, the boy's father, Joseph Charlton, spoke to KATU and said he was trying to get his son on the right path and that his boy had gotten the gun from a "troublemaker in the neighborhood."

But investigators believe the gun actually came from the boy's home and they arrested Charlton on a city ordinance that prohibits adults from leaving an unsecured firearm where a minor can get to it. The ordinance was one of several that were put into place in 2010 with the goal of curbing gun violence in Portland and this was the first time it was used.

Charlton, who has a criminal record for multiple assaults and who spent three years behind bars (from 2002 to 2005) is prohibited from possessing firearms because he has a felony conviction on his record.

In light of that, the United States Attorney's Office in Oregon filed a charge of felon in possession of a firearm against Charlton, which means he could spend up to 10 years in prison.

Charlton is scheduled to be sentenced in May.