EAST ST. LOUIS MAN SENTENCED FOR FIREARMS OFFENSES
An East St. Louis man was sentenced in District Court in East St. Louis on September 16, 2011, for the unlawful possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance and possession of an unregistered firearm, a sawed-off shotgun, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Louis Johnson, 70, East St. Louis, Ill.-, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 78 months on each count, to run concurrently; 3 years’ supervised release on each count, also to run concurrently. Johnson was fined $150 on each count, for a total fine of $300, and ordered to pay a $200 special assessment. The Court also ordered the forfeiture of 4 of the guns Johnson illegally possessed on March 5, 2010.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of this case. Persons who use drugs should not have firearms, especially such a dangerous weapon as a sawed-off shotgun,” said United States Attorney Wigginton.
In determining the appropriate sentence, the Court rejected the Johnson’s argument, based on his age and his minimal criminal history, for probation. While the Court certainly considered these factors when determining Johnson’s ultimate sentence, the Government also presented evidence to the Court that Johnson continued to illegally possess guns and use controlled substances even after learning that he could not lawfully possess firearms because he did not have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (“FOID”) card in 2007. The Court ultimately determined that a sentence within the advisory guideline range of 78-97 months, rather than probation, was appropriate because of, among other things, Johnson’s apparent lack of respect for the law, the danger he presented to the public, and the need to deter him and others from illegally possessing firearms.
The charged violations occurred on March 5, 2010, when members of a WAVE Detail asked the Johnson for consent to search his home after receiving a tip that the resident might be selling drugs from the home. After Johnson voluntarily consented to a search, officers recovered a stolen handgun, two rifles, and a sawed-off shotgun. Officers also recovered marihuana, 10 Oxycontin pills, and assorted drug paraphernalia. In a voluntary, videotaped statement, Johnson admitted possession of all of the recovered firearms and admitted being a habitual user of crack cocaine and marihuana.
In addition to the charged offense, the Government presented evidence to the Court that, in 2007, Johnson was contacted at his home after selling a gun to a confidential informant. At that time he consented to a search of his residence. Then agents found a total of 9 firearms in his house, as well as a loaded gun in his car. At that time Johnson admitted selling guns, and that he did not have a valid FOID card. At that time, the agents specifically informed Johnson that he could not legally possess guns because he did not have a valid FOID card. Despite the clear admonition in 2007, Johnson committed the charged offenses in May, 2010.
Furthermore, the Government presented evidence that, when agents arrested Johnson on the present federal indictment, officers found another two guns in his home, one of which was a sawedoff shotgun, as well as controlled substances. Johnson told the agents that he “still smoke[d] dope.”
These cases 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 2007 case was investigated by the Illinois State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The violation which resulted in Johnson’s bond being revoked was investigated the United States Probation Office and the East St. Louis Police Department.
The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.