EAST ST. LOUIS MAN SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM BY AN UNLAWFUL USER OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
An East St. Louis man was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison on April 8, 2011, for the unlawful possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Deontae Rice, 24, East St. Louis, Ill.-, received a 46 month sentence to be followed by a three year term of supervised release.
“Besides previously-convicted felons, federal statutes prohibit possession of firearms by a range of prohibited individuals. In our ongoing effort to prevent all illegal possession of weapons, my office will use the full range of federal statutes to combat this type of crime.”, said United States Attorney Wigginton.
In this case, Rice’s advisory guideline sentencing range was enhanced because the gun he possessed was stolen and had a magazine capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. In addition, his guideline range was increased because Rice used the gun in connection with another felony offense – reckless discharge of a firearm. An order was also entered to forfeit the gun Rice illegally possessed. Rice has been in federal custody since his initial appearance on October 12, 2010, the above charge.
The violation occurred on May 25, 2010, when members of the W.A.V.E. task force responded to a call of shots fired and spotted the defendant with a firearm in his hand. Rice dropped the gun after being ordered to do so. At the scene, officers recovered three (3) spent shell casings. The defendant, his mother, and his wife were all interviewed at the scene. The interviews were videotaped. The defendant stated that he had a confrontation with an individual at a gas station. The defendant followed the individual to a residence where the individual shot at him. The defendant fled to his mother’s house to get his gun and, when he allegedly saw the person who shot at him, returned fire in a residential neighborhood were children were present. The defendant said that he bought the firearm off the street from a “crackhead,” and that he knew he was not supposed to possess a firearm because he was on bond at the time of the offense in St. Clair County on a pending charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Finally, the defendant admitted using marihuana.
The district court, before imposing sentence, rejected the Rice’s claim of self-defense to escape the four-level enhancement for the reckless discharge of a firearm. As the district court noted, the defendant’s own actions (by following the individual to a residence) led to the ultimate confrontation in front of the defendant’s mother’s house, and that the defendant had other alternatives than firing back at the individual in a residential neighborhood. During the defendant’s videotaped statement, he admitted not calling the police because he was “in a rage.”
The case resulted from the efforts of the WAVE (Working Against Violent Elements) Task Force, which focuses its efforts on combating violent crime in East St. Louis, Washington Park, and surrounding communities. WAVE was formed in November 2009, and is a collaboration of law enforcement officers from the Illinois State Police, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois (MEGSI), the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, the East St. Louis Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the United States Marshals Service. The WAVE Task Force receives financial support through the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, a nationwide federal program which endeavors to address gun-related violence. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.