East St. Louis Man Pleads Guilty to Firearm Offense
An East St. Louis man, Kenneth C. Walton, 21, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court, East St. Louis, to Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Previously Convicted Felon, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Sentencing is scheduled for February 27, 2012. The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, up to 3 years’ supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. Walton has been in custody since his arrest on September 27, 2011.
According to court documents, on January 3, 2011, members of the FBI WAVE task force were patrolling East St. Louis, Illinois, within the Southern District of Illinois, and approached the parking lot of the 365 AM/PM Market, a location well-known for open air drug dealing and weapon possession. When agents pulled onto the lot, Walton looked toward them before immediately turning and walking into the store. An FBI Special Agent followed Walton into the store where he observed Walton walking away from the entrance to the bathroom. The agent asked Walton what he hid in the store, and he replied, “A little weed.” Walton said he hid the marihuana under a mop in the bathroom. The agent found four small bags of marihuana under a mop in the bathroom and a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol under the sink with one live round of ammunition in the magazine.
Walton gave a voluntarily statement stating he got the gun on New Year’s Eve and fired it a couple times. The firearm functioned as designed and was manufactured in Ohio, thereby affecting interstate commerce. Walton has a prior felony conviction which occurred on June 4, 2008, in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois.
The WAVE Task Force 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 East St. Louis Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 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 gunrelated violence.
The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kit Morrissey.