Cahokia Man Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Possession of a Firearem by a Previously Convicted Felon
A Cahokia man, Willie J. Fair, III, pleaded guilty 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 June 25, 2012. The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both, up to 3 years’ supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. Fair remains in custody pending sentencing.
According to court documents, on November 30, 2011, members of the FBI WAVE (Working Against Violent Elements) task force were patrolling East St. Louis, Illinois, within the Southern District of Illinois, and responded to a report involving the recovery of a stolen vehicle at the Orr Weathers Public Housing Complex, Building 21, and a potential suspect running into Building 21. Members of the task force knocked on the door of apartment 21D based upon their suspicion that the suspect ran into apartment 21D, and were met by Fair. Officers obtained consent to search from the lease holder of the apartment, Fair’s aunt, who was also present. Officers seized a total of four firearms, magazines and numerous rounds of ammunition from the apartment. One of the firearms was recovered from a deep freezer, and is further described as a Hi-Point .380 caliber, semi-automatic pistol. Fair admitted possession of the Hi Point pistol and had placed it in the deep freezer when law enforcement arrived. Another man was arrested for possession of the sawed-off shotgun.
Fair has a prior felony conviction, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, for Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance which occurred on October 16, 2007, in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County, Illinois, and is thus prohibited from possessing firearms.
The firearm functioned as designed and was manufactured in the State of Ohio, thereby affecting interstate commerce sometime before Fair possessed it on November 30, 2011.
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.