SAVANNAH, GA: Seven defendants are among those facing federal charges including illegal possession of firearms 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 (ATF) and the FBI, to reduce violent crime with measures that include targeting convicted felons who illegally carry guns.
“An essential component in the fight against violent crime is our effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to remove from our communities those who threaten the safety of our streets.”
In the past four years, more than 800 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. Recent federal legislation increases the maximum penalty for illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon to 15 years, up from 10, for those found in possession after June 25, 2022.
Defendants named in federal indictments from the February 2023 term of the U.S. District Court grand jury include:
Javonte Deshawn Washington, 30, of Savannah, and Nygeria Tasheema Brown, 32, of Savannah, charged with False Statement during the Purchase of a Firearm. Washington also is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, while Brown also is charged with Straw Purchase and with Transfer of a Firearm to a Prohibited Person;
Melvin Brinson, 29, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine;
Darrell Lamar Williams, 24, of Claxton, Ga., charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
Calvin Lomont Powell Jr., 21, of Waynesboro, Ga., charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
Lear A. Williams, 33, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon; and,
Tekayo Spencer, 39, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Additional defendants recently have been adjudicated on federal charges that include illegal firearms possession:
Gregory Mitchell, 58, of Savannah, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Savannah Police officers investigating a report of gunshots arrested Mitchell in November 2020 after finding a pistol in his waistband.
James Deon Green, 51, of Savannah, was sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Savannah Police officers arrested Green in December 2020 after a traffic stop and foot pursuit when they found a pistol in Green’s waistband.
Melvin Jamarcus Lanier, 42, of Statesboro, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Statesboro Police officers arrested Lanier in January 2022 during a traffic stop after finding a pistol in his vehicle.
Devonte Malik Jorame, 25, of Aiken, S.C., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jorame in June 2022 after finding a pistol in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Jorame has prior state criminal convictions for domestic violence and gun possession.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Savannah Police Department, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Georgia State Patrol.
The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’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.