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July 11, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


MORRISTOWN MAN WITH THIRTEEN PRIOR ROBBERY CONVICTIONS SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR ROBBERY NUMBER FOURTEEN

GREENEVILLE, Tenn.– Ronnie Joe Lawson, 32, of Morristown, Tenn., was sentenced today by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge, to serve 170 months in prison. Lawson pleaded guilty on February 16, 2011, to a Hobbs Act robbery of the Dollar General Store in Morristown, Tenn., after having 13 prior robbery convictions in state court.

On June 4, 2009, Lawson robbed the Dollar General Store in Russellville, Tenn., using what was later determined to be a BB gun. Lawson had been released from state prison approximately three months prior to the robbery and was on parole for 13 prior robberies at the time of this offense. Lawson served less than five years of a 16 year sentence before being released on parole. Upon sentencing him today to federal prison, Judge Greer noted that there is no parole in the federal system.

The indictment and subsequent guilty plea by Lawson was the result of an investigation conducted by the Morristown Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Reeves represented the United States.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community faces.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian commended the Morristown Police Department and the ATF for their investigation and apprehension of this very dangerous career offender. U.S. Attorney Killian noted, “These are the offenders who must be prosecuted in federal court in order to fulfill our duty to protect the citizens of the Eastern District of Tennessee.”

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