BELLEVILLE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FIREARM OFFENSES
A Belleville, IL, man pled guilty on July 18, 2011, in Federal District Court in East St. Louis, to a two-count Indictment charging, in Count 1, the unlawful possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, and, in Count 2, 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.
Edward Watson, 41, faces a prison term of not more than ten (10) years’, a fine up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of not more than three (3) years on each count when he is sentenced. That sentencing is currently scheduled for October 24, 2011, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Watson also agreed to forfeit the guns that he illegally possessed.
The violation occurred on September 23, 2010, when members of the Working Against Violent Elements (WAVE) Task Force conducted a traffic stop of Watson, and subsequently arrested him for having a suspended driver’s license. During a search of the Watson’s car, officers recovered two guns, marihuana, and live rounds ammunition.
In a voluntary, videotaped statement, Watson admitted possession of the marihuana, stating that it weighed approximately 1/4 ounce. Watson said that he bought the marihuana to smoke, and that he was a long time user of marihuana, using it approximately every other day for years. Watson also admitted possession of the firearms, stating that he bought them approximately one year prior from an individual who was “dealing” drugs. Watson stated that he had the guns for protection, and that he fired both of them “periodically.”
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 is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.