COLUMBIA, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney William N. Nettles, stated today that two Aiken men, Jesse James Quarles, 33, and Kenneth Islar, 27, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in separate indictments, charging each with felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1). During arraignment hearings this last Tuesday morning in federal court in Columbia, the government requested that both men be detained. Quarles and Islar entered not guilty pleas, waived their right to a detention hearing, and remain in custody.
Mr. Nettles stated the penalty for felon in possession is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years, plus a special assessment of $100. However, should either Quarles or Islar be classified based on prior criminal history as an Armed Career Criminal, they would be subject to enhanced penalties--a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of life in prison, a fine of $250,000, a five-year term of supervised release, and a special assessment fee of $100. Both cases have been assigned to United States District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs in Columbia, South Carolina.
Launched in early 2013, the Aiken Safe Communities Initiative is a unified, proactive community approach to engage, educate, and encourage recurring offenders to change their behavior and make healthy life choices. The initiative also bands together local, state, and federal law enforcement to expedite the investigation and prosecution of individuals who reoffend, despite opportunities and assistance offered by the community during public notification meetings held at Aiken City Hall to support a law abiding path. From 2012-2013, the city of Aiken experienced an 86% reduction in murders. Earlier this year, the South Carolina Community Development Association presented the city of Aiken with its 2014 Award of Excellence, recognizing community development efforts that have significantly improved the quality of life in the community. Nettles said, “I drove to Aiken and sat in the room with both of these individuals looked them in the eye and promised them that if they were ever found to have a gun I was going to prosecute them. This office is following through on the promise I made to them and to the people of South Carolina”
Both cases were investigated by the Aiken Department of Public Safety, the 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office (Aiken, Bamberg, and Barnwell counties), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). These prosecutions as well as the United States Attorney’s Office ongoing commitment to the Aiken Safe Communities Initiative are part of Operation CeaseFire. CeaseFire is a joint local, state, and federal initiative which seeks to prosecute aggressively individuals who unlawfully use, possess, or transfer firearms. Both cases are assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Lance Crick of the Greenville office.