News and Press Releases

RICHMOND MAN CONVICTED OF DISCHARGING FIREARM DURING DRUG
TRANSACTION AT SPOTSYLVANIA TOWN CENTER MALL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. – Travis Doug Burley, 26, of Richmond, Virginia, was found guilty yesterday of using and possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.  The jury also unanimously found that the firearm had been discharged during the offense.  Following the jury’s verdict, Judge Gibney immediately remanded Burley into the custody of the United States Marshals Service.  He faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, and a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment, when he is sentenced on July 23, 2013. 

            Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Carl Vasilko, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Washington Field office, made the announcement.  

According to evidence at trial, on July 11, 2012, Burley contacted a Spotsylvania-area man, Matthew Johnson, to purchase four ounces of high grade marijuana.  Burley, who was previously unknown to Johnson, used a mutual friend named Ronnie Morgan, Jr., to broker the deal.  Morgan and Johnson negotiated the transaction through a text message conversation, and eventually agreed to meet that evening in the Spotsylvania Town Center Mall, near the Costco store.  When Johnson arrived at the Mall, he parked near a car he saw containing his friend Morgan, the defendant Burley, and a third unidentified man. 

Immediately after Johnson parked his car, Burley got into the passenger seat, brandished a handgun and told Johnson, “You know what this is about” and demanded that Johnson give him the drugs.  Johnson, who did not know Burley, denied having anything, which prompted Burley to hit Johnson repeatedly with one fist while holding a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol in the other.  Johnson grabbed the handgun, which discharged while the men struggled over it.  A single bullet injured both Burley in the hand and Johnson in the hand and left calf. 

Johnson drove a short distance from the scene and attempted to hide the marijuana, and further lied to investigators during his initial 911 call.  However, when later confronted by investigators with various items of evidence, including text messages from his cell phone, he agreed to cooperate.  Johnson, who still has pending drug distribution charges in Spotsylvania County, acknowledged his guilt during his testimony, without the benefit of any immunity or plea agreement from local prosecutors.

During the struggle in Johnson’s car, Ronnie Morgan, Jr, stood outside of Johnson’s car looking in.  After Burley’s handgun went off during the fight, both Morgan and the third, unidentified man fled the scene prior to police arriving.  Morgan, who was a long-time associate of Burley, was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury, during which he lied that he knew who Burley was when shown photographs of his friend.  Morgan later pleaded guilty to perjury as a result of those false statements, and is scheduled for sentencing on May 14, 2013, before Judge Gibney.  Morgan was not called as a witness during the trial.

            The investigation was conducted by the Richmond Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office.  Mr. MacBride and Special Agent Vasilko wish to acknowledge the significant assistance provided by the offices of Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney, William F. Neely, and Spotsylvania County Sheriff, Roger L. Harris, during the federal phase of this investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Brian R. Hood prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.
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