A Statesboro man was sentenced Monday in Savannah Federal Court to five years in prison as part of the nationwide Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative that targets illegal firearms and individuals who have them illegally.
Melvin Jamarcus Lanier, 42, of Statesboro, was sentenced to 60 months and fined $1,500 after pleading guilty to possession of a stolen firearm. Statesboro police officers arrested Lanier in January 2021 during a traffic stop after finding a pistol in his vehicle.
“Guns in the hands of convicted felons present a danger to the community,” said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “With our law enforcement partners, we continue to identify and prosecute individuals who violate firearms laws.”
The cases are prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.
In the past four years, more than 800 defendants have been prosecuted in the Southern District of Georgia for firearms offenses – most often for possessing a firearm after conviction for a previous felony. That charge carries a statutory penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system.
In addition to Lanier, nine others were sentenced for firearms offenses, including Caleb Earl Riggs of Claxton and Alvin York of Swainsboro.
Riggs, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and fined $1,500 after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Riggs was found in possession of a pistol during a traffic stop by Evans County sheriff’s deputies and the Georgia State Patrol.
York, 47, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Swainsboro police officers found multiple firearms in York’s vehicle during a December 2021 traffic stop.