ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford man has been sentenced to spend nearly 5 years in federal prison for possession of a firearm by a felon, as part of the U.S. Justice Department’s crackdown on firearm-related crimes.

Cedric Marks, 35, was pulled over for speeding on September 4th, 2019. According to the DOJ, Marks was a passenger in the car. When the police officer caught the odor of marijuana in the car, he asked Marks to step out, but authorities said Marks reached for a backpack and ignored the officer’s request to stop.

A struggle ensued and Marks ran, dropping the backpack. Authorities said the backpack contained ammunition, cash, drugs, scales, and other drug paraphernalia.

When Marks was arrested, police said he was in possession of a loaded .38-caliber gun.

Having previously been convicted of a felony, Marks was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.

He was sentenced Tuesday to spend four years and nine months in prison.

Court records show he faces additional charges in Winnebago County, including armed violence, drug possession, and illegal possession of ammunition.

The sentencing is part of a U.S. Justice Department prosecution initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods, designed to reduce violent crime in northern Illinois.

A federal grant is enabling courts to use an intelligence-led approach to prosecutions that target the most violent criminals.