All defendants linked to a 2020 Bryan County gun store burglary have now admitted to related charges with the guilty plea of a Pembroke man.
Adam Webster, 38, of Pembroke pled guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to possession of a stolen firearm, said David H. Estes, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The plea subjects Webster to a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison, along with substantial fines and three years of supervised release following completion of any prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“The investigation of the April 2020 burglary of Cleve’s Gun Shop demonstrates how quickly illegal firearms can spread once introduced into the community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Our law enforcement partners made exemplary progress in tracking down those responsible for this burglary and recovering these stolen weapons before they could be used in further crimes.”
The investigation began when Cleve’s Gun Shop in Ellabell was burglarized in the early morning hours of April 22, 2020. Approximately 18 firearms, a .50 caliber muzzleloader, and various rounds of ammunition were stolen during the burglary.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), and the Georgia Department of Community Supervision (DCS), along with the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, worked to recover four of the guns during the investigation. On June 18, 2020, law enforcement conducted a search of Webster’s residence and found a revolver stolen during the burglary. At the time, Webster was on parole after conviction on a state felony charge.
Other defendants who have pled guilty to their role in the burglary or possessing firearms stolen during the burglary are:
Johnny Cason, 40, of Ellabell, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy for helping to plan and provide materials used in the burglary. He faces a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison.
Michael Ernest Warnell, 39, of Ellabell, faces a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Colby Ray Southerland, 24, of Ellabell, faces a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of controlled substances.
Brandon Beasley, 23, of Ellabell, faces a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm with an altered and obliterated serial number.
“Among ATF’s top priorities is ensuring that those who are responsible for committing gun store burglaries are aggressively investigated and swiftly brought to justice,” said Beau Kolodka, assistant special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the ATF. “This is an excellent example of such an investigation that was worked cooperatively by multiple partner agencies with outstanding results.”
The case was investigated by the ATF; GBI; DCS; and the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office; with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, and prosecuted for the United States by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of firearms stolen in the burglary is requested to contact the ATF at (912) 650-6550.