Friday, March 23, 2018

Federal Judge Sentences Prior Felon to 22 Years in Prison for Armed Carjacking

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Graysville man to more than 20 years in prison for a 2016 carjacking in Forestdale, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced MICHAEL DeWAYNE JOHNSON, 33, to 21 years and 10 months in prison on one count each of carjacking, being a convicted felon in possession of a gun and using a gun during the commission of a violent crime. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges in October.

“This defendant was a violent career criminal. At the time of this offense, he had just recently been released on probation for another violent robbery in which he used a gun,” Town said. “The revolving door for Johnson is now locked tightly behind him and a warm prison bed awaits him.”

 “I applaud the sentence handed down today because this is the type of violent offender who needs to be taken off the streets,” Sharp said. “I want to thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and my agents for their outstanding work on this case.”

According to Johnson’s plea agreement, the carjacking and his arrest occurred as follows:

Johnson stole a Chevrolet Trailblazer from a man stopped in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant on Forestdale Boulevard on Aug. 17, 2016, by opening the truck door, twice striking the man with the butt of a pistol and ordering him out of the vehicle. The victim had stopped in the parking lot to call his wife and ask what she wanted him to order.

The victim reported the carjacking and a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy spotted a truck matching the Trailblazer’s description about 30 minutes later at a gas station about five miles from the restaurant where the incident occurred. When the deputy pulled behind the Trailblazer, Johnson sped away, only to lose control and wreck the vehicle after a short chase. The truck flipped several times, strewing debris, before landing in a residential yard.

Law enforcement recovered two semi-automatic handguns among the debris, a Taurus Millennium .40-caliber and a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber, both matching the victim’s description of the gun used in the carjacking. The Taurus pistol was reported stolen from a burglary in Tarrant the day before the carjacking. A passenger in the Trailblazer with Johnson told investigators that he had no guns on him that night and both firearms found at the scene must have belonged to Johnson.

Johnson had at least two prior state felony convictions – first degree robbery in Jefferson County in 2004, and first degree robbery in Jefferson County in 2008.

The FBI and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier O. Carter Sr. prosecuted.

Holyoke Man Sentenced for Illegal Firearms Possession

BOSTON – A Holyoke man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Springfield for illegally possessing firearms.

Francisco Figueroa, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to 35 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In June 2016, Figueroa pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. In November 2015, Figueroa and his co-defendant, Eric Lopez, were arrested and charged.

Figueroa and Lopez were arrested as part of an investigation into firearms and narcotics trafficking by members of the Springfield and Holyoke chapters of the Latin Kings. In total, 11 members and leaders were arrested as part of the investigation.

Figueroa is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition due to a prior criminal conviction. On Nov. 12, 2014, Figueroa possessed a Zastava, model SKS (M59/66A1), 7.62mm rifle and a CZ, model CZ527M Carbine, 7.62mm rifle.

In June 2016, Lopez pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms and ammunition. He was sentenced on March 15, 2018, to 114 months in prison.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd E. Newhouse of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office prosecuted the case.

Martinsburg man indicted on illegal ammunition charge

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Gary Owen Jones, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, was indicted today by a federal grand jury on an illegal possession of ammunition charge, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Jones, age 46, was indicted on one count of “Unlawful Possession of Ammunition.” Jones, who was previously convicted of a felony in the Circuit Court of Berkeley County, is accused of possessing more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in February of 2018 in Berkeley County.

Jones faces up to 10 years incarceration and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Omps-Botteicher is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guil