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Eleven defendants, including two from Douglas, are among those facing federal charges including illegal possession of firearms and drug charges after separate indictments by a grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia, while recent actions in U.S. District Court include guilty pleas and criminal sentences related to illegal gun possession.
The indicted cases are being investigated as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI, to reduce violent crime with measures that include targeting convicted felons who illegally carry guns.
“Getting guns out of the hands of criminals is an essential element of the fight against violent crime and the disruption of our neighborhoods,” said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “We commend the hard work of our law enforcement officers as they continue to identify and apprehend those who illegally possess firearms.”
In the past four years, more than 800 defendants have been federally charged in the Southern District of Georgia for illegal firearms offenses – most often for possessing a firearm after conviction for a previous felony. Federal law increased the maximum penalty for illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon to 15 years, up from 10, for those found in possession after June 25, 2022.
Defendants named in federal indictments from the March 2023 term of the U.S. District Court grand jury include:
- Jovonn Courtney Stokes, 26, of Springfield, Ga., charged with three counts of Interference with Commerce by Robbery and three counts of Possession of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence for a string of armed robberies of Chatham County convenience stores in November and December 2022.
- Stacey Vincent, 45, and Felicia Sherrod, 54, both of Douglas, Ga., each charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. Vincent also is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
- Tavarres L. Freeman Jr., 22, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
- Todd Joseph Harbuck, 47, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of a Stolen Firearm.
- Daquan Minor, 32, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
- Calvin Polite, 35, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
- Arthur Singleton, 46, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon.
- Desirae Heinsler, 37, of Eastman, Ga., charged with six counts of making false statements during the purchase of firearms.
- Stephan DeWaine Jackson, 27, of Brunswick, Ga., charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
- Alvin York, 47, of Swainsboro, Ga., charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
- Kenneth Oliver Riley, 60, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Savannah Police Department, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia State Patrol.
The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Under federal law, it is illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she falls into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon; illegal alien; or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to purchase – firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, also is a federal offense.
For more information from the ATF on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see: https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/atfw-form-4473
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