Eleven defendants, including one from Pembroke and another from Swainsboro, face federal charges including illegal possession of firearms and drug possession 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, the FBI, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in an ongoing effort to reduce violent crime with measures that included targeting those who illegally possess firearms.
“These indictments and prosecutions continue to send the unmistakable message: convicted felons are not legally allowed to possess firearms,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Getting guns out of the hands of criminals is essential to making our streets safer.”
In the past three years, more than 710 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.
Defendants named in federal indictments from the December 2021 term of the U.S. District Court grand jury include:
Dillon Cole Gay, 28, of Pembroke, charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug-Trafficking Crime.
David Kreiss, 46, of Swainsboro, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; Possession of an Unregistered Sawed-Off Shotgun; and Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number.
Others charged include Larry Bennett Jr., 25, Brandon Lamar Williams, 29, Raheem Dasheen Jackson, 29, Asim Simmons Jr., 22, and Dontray Lewis, 42, all of Savannah. Jamie Lee Cogan, 37, of Thomson; Keyon Quinton Adams, 28, and Fredrick Connell Blount, 37, both of Augusta; and De’Montre Murray, 22, of Columbia, S.C.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Area men sentenced
Additional defendants, including one each from Sylvania, Pembroke and Ellabell, recently were adjudicated on federal charges that include illegal firearms possession:
- John Calvin Young Jr., 35, of Sylvania, was sentenced to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Stolen Firearm. During a traffic stop on Oct. 24, 2020, Port Wentworth Police officers found Young in possession of a pistol that later was determined to have been stolen. Young’s criminal history includes a prior conviction for armed robbery.
- Darius Edwards, 33, of Pembroke, was sentenced to 51 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. ATF agents found Edwards in possession of an assault-style Mini Draco pistol during an investigation of a suspicious gun purchase in June 2020. Edwards was on state probation for a felony conviction at the time.
- Brandon Beasley, 23, of Ellabell, was sentenced to 34 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm with an Altered and Obliterated Serial Number. Beasley was one of five defendants charged following an investigation into an April 2020 burglary at a Bryan County gun store. The other defendants previously were sentenced to prison terms of up to 86 months.
- Telly Green, 33, of Savannah.
- Kenneth Mitchell, 30, of Ridgeland, S.C.
- Bryant Young, 25, of Savannah.
- Marquise Grant, 31, of Savannah.
- Matthew James Gordon, 27, of Savannah.
- Dameon Duncan, 21, of Savannah.
- Dennis Okeefe Harris, 37, of Savannah.
- Charles Walker, 54, of Savannah.
- Devonta Armon Stallings, 28, of Augusta.
- Timothy Lee Cheeks, 33, of Augusta.
- Chavar Alec Harrison, 46, of Augusta.
- Blake McDuffie, 26, of Winder.
- Jamel Albert, 30, of Savannah.
- Charles Aimee Fields Jr., a/k/a “Slim,” 33, of Savannah.
- James Ricardo Harris, 29, of Augusta.
- Demont Latrell Gresham, 33, of Washington.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol, the Savannah Police Department, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the Pooler Police Department, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, the Wrightsville Police Department, the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, and the McDuffie County Sheriff’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.