News and Press Releases


March 3, 2011

An East St. Louis woman, convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison on March 2, 2011, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Merlene A. Smith, 49, of East St. Louis, received a 30-month sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Smith was also sentenced to 3 years of supervised release, to follow her release from imprisonment. Smith was also fined $100, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. Smith pled guilty to the charges on November 23, 2010. Smith has been in custody since her arraignment on September 30, 2010.

A Factual Stipulation filed with the Court states:

1. Defendant was convicted of a felony on July 29, 2003, in St. Clair County, Illinois. The felony was Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance.
2. On June 2, 2009, Defendant was riding as a passenger in a vehicle in East St. Louis, St. Clair County, Illinois, when law enforcement agents observed the driver of the vehicle throw a metal object out the passenger window of the vehicle. The agents stopped the vehicle.
3. At the time of the stop, the agents observed Defendant with a crack pipe in her hand. The agents removed the crack pipe and found a small amount of crack cocaine inside the pipe. The agents then searched the vehicle and discovered a firearm – namely, an unloaded Smith & Wesson, Model 681, .357 Magnum caliber revolver, bearing serial number AJC363, as well as a box containing 49 live rounds of .38 caliber Special ammunition.
4. The firearm had been manufactured outside the state of Illinois and had therefore traveled in interstate commerce prior to Defendant’s possession of it. The firearm was in working order and was capable of firing a projectile by action of explosive.
5. Defendant admitted having the firearm in her possession and stated that the driver of the vehicle knew nothing about the firearm.

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 prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen B. Clark.





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