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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


MATT J. WHITWORTH


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


MAY 22, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


COLUMBIA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO GANG-RELATED

SHOOTING, DRUG TRAFFICKING


            JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Columbia, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court to his involvement in a gang-related shooting and to selling crack cocaine to members of the Cut Throats gang.


            Robert Darnell Simmons, 36, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey on Thursday, May 21, 2009, to the charges contained in an April 3, 2009, superseding indictment.


            Simmons pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to illegally possess firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and a crime of violence, and possess firearms with the intent to intimidate or injure another person and to fire a weapon into a group of people. Simmons also pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine.


            Simmons admitted that he drove a car to the gas station at 3300 Falling Leaf, Columbia, on May 31, 2008. Inside the car were several passengers who were carrying firearms. Another person was also at the lot in another car, and had a firearm with him. While on the lot, one of them noticed that a person they believed to be a member of a rival gang with whom they had a dispute over narcotics and over an earlier shooting (in which a fellow Cut Throats gang member and narcotics dealer was shot by the rival gang) was also at the lot. Two of the passengers in Simmons’ car produced their firearms and began shooting at the individual. The driver of the second car started shooting at the suspected rival gang member, and then left the station’s lot after the others joined in the shooting.


            Later, it was determined that the person who was shot in the face wasn’t the person whom the Cut Throats believed shot their associate; the victim was not associated with any rival gang faction.


            Simmons also admitted that he earned money by purchasing for resale controlled substances, namely crack cocaine and powder cocaine, from members of the Cut Throats gang. Simmons would also sell and distribute crack and powder cocaine to the same Cut Throats and others. Over the period he dealt with the Cut Throats, the amounts distributed between them was in excess of a kilo of powder cocaine, and also included crack cocaine.


            Simmons admitted that he was in possession of a Hi-Point .380 caliber rifle on July 18, 2008. The firearm had been previously possessed by other persons convicted of felonies. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Simmons has a 1999 felony conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.


            Under federal statutes, Simmons is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to 60 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2.25 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence E. Miller and Anthony P. Gonzalez. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, the Boone County, Mo., Prosecutor’s Office, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab and the Mo. Department of Corrections.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html