A Pembroke man is awaiting sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to separate charges for illegal drugs and weapons.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Michael Brandon Sharpe pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Sharpe, 44, is one of 35 defendants who were indicted as part of Operation Stranded Bandit, which targeted gang-affiliated drug traffickers in the Southern District of Georgia. The Pembroke resident could face more than 10 years in federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing guns, and with our law enforcement partners we are committed to keeping our communities safe from violent crime by holding accountable those who would violate the law,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
In the past four years, more than 760 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.
Of the Operation Stranded Bandit defendants, 27 have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 292 months after pleading guilty. Sharpe is among three defendants awaiting sentencing after entering guilty pleas; two defendants await trial; and the case against one defendant was referred to state court.
Along with Sharpe, the following defendants recently were adjudicated on federal charges that include illegal firearms possession:
Davonta Johnson, 31, of Hinesville, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm, and Possession of Firearms by a Prohibited Person, relating to a prior conviction for domestic violence. Johnson admitted that he lied in May 2020 about his prior conviction while purchasing a pistol at a Bullock County pawn shop. Hinesville Police arrested Johnson two months later during a traffic stop and found two pistols in his vehicle.
Rashejon B. Curry, 28, of Pooler, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Chatham County Police officers arrested Curry following a report of an assault at a motel room, later finding him carrying a loaded pistol. Curry has a violent criminal history including convictions for robbery and gun possession.
Phillip Allen Loughry, 41, of Baxley, was sentenced to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Stolen Firearm. Appling County Sheriff’s deputies charged Loughry after he ran from a December 2020 traffic stop and dropped a pistol as deputies pursued and captured him. Loughry still faces prosecution for related state charges and revocation of prior probationary status in state court.
Lamar Harris, a/k/a “Foolie,” 21, of Savannah, was sentenced to 62 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 Kilos or More of Marijuana, and Conspiracy to Use, Possess, or Carry Firearms. Harris was one of 29 defendants indicted in December 2020 as part of Operation Deadlier Catch, an investigation into a gang-related drug trafficking network in the greater Savannah area.
Vesenta Cornelius Watson, 46, of Augusta, was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number. Watson sped away from an attempted Richmond County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop in November 2021 and threw a duffel bag from the window of his vehicle. After taking Watson into custody, deputies retrieved the bag and found a pistol and illegal drugs inside.
De’Montre Murray, 22, of Columbia, S.C., was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. A four-time convicted felon, Murray was charged after a June 21 chase by Glynn County Sheriff’s deputies and the Georgia State Patrol on Interstate 95 for 57 miles at speeds up to 100 mph. A pistol was discovered in the stolen vehicle Murray was driving.
Antoine Ladson, 33, of Brunswick, was sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Brunswick Police officers arrested Ladson in January 2021 after finding him in possession of large amounts of drugs, cash and a pistol while loitering near a liquor store.
Akil Shawron Brown, 21, of Savannah, was sentenced to 16 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to Receipt of a Firearm by a Person Under Indictment. Savannah Police officers charged Brown, who was out on bond pending adjudication of felony charges on the state level, after learning he was in possession of a pistol while being treated at a Savannah hospital. Brown is a reputed member of Savannah’s 1100 criminal street gang.
Terry Kennard Isaacs, 37, of Beaufort, S.C., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Stolen Firearm. Shortly after midnight on June 17, 2021, Pooler Police officers found Isaacs asleep inside a customer’s vehicle parked at a repair business, and arrested him after finding a pistol and drugs in a small bag in his possession. Isaacs has multiple prior felony convictions involving firearms and violence.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Savannah Police Department, and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.