DOJ Seal Department of Justice  

United States Attorney John M. Bales
Eastern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               CONTACT:  DAVILYN WALSTON
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2010                                     PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER                                                                    DIRECT: (409) 981-7902
                                                                                                                       CELL: (409) 553-9881


BEAUMONT, Texas - A Gulfport, MS couple has pleaded guilty to federal firearms violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

            Willie Hardie , 35, and Joanna Dedeaux, 36, both pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm by an unlawful drug user today before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

According to information presented in court, on Feb. 24, 2010, law enforcement officers conducted a traffic stop on a car driven by Dedeaux on Interstate 10 in Jefferson County, Texas.  During the stop, officers noticed the odor of raw marijuana coming from the vehicle.  During the traffic stop, a loaded semi-automatic handgun was discovered between the passenger seat and the center console and an unloaded firearm was found in the backseat.  In addition to the firearms, law enforcement officers found ammunition, $8,160 cash, and about 10 lbs of marijuana in the trunk.  Hardie and Dedeaux were indicted by a federal grand jury on April 21, 2010.

Hardie faces a minimum of 5 years in federal prison to be served consecutive to any other term of imprisonment.  Dedeaux faces up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing.  Sentencing dates have not been set.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. Project Safe Neighborhoods is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in the Eastern District of Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

            This case was investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the ATF and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John B. Ross.


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