U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
April 19, 2010
PROVIDENCE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL GUN CHARGE
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Providence man pleaded guilty Monday to being a felon in possession of a firearm, having been arrested in September 2009 by Providence Police who were monitoring reports of a potential confrontation between gangs. Dwayne Wheeler, 31, entered a change of plea before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi; it was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha.
On September 20, 2009, Providence Police were monitoring reports of a potential confrontation between the Asian Boys (“ABz”) and Laos Pride (“LP”). In the vicinity of an area known to be frequented by gang members, officers observed several individuals who dispersed in different directions when they saw the police. A patrol officer observed a man closing the hood of a vehicle, jump into the driver seat, and speed away. The car ran a stop sign and was stopped by police for further investigation.
The police asked Wheeler, who was the driver and the individual they had seen moments earlier closing the hood of the car, if there were any weapons in the vehicle. The defendant stated there were none and he permitted police to search the vehicle. Police discovered a loaded .380 caliber pistol in a space near the battery compartment.
Wheeler, who has been detained since his arrest, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15, 2010. He was convicted on a felony charge in Rhode Island state court in 2000, and was sentenced to five years to serve - fifteen years suspended with probation.
The matter was investigated by ATF and the Providence Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard W. Rose.