News and Press Releases

COWLITZ COUNTY MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2005

ROBERT EARNEST WILSON, 39, of Longview, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to105 months in prison for illegal possession of a firearm and possession of counterfeit United States currency. Wilson was convicted of those crimes after a jury trial in June of this year before the Honorable Robert Bryan.

The charges arose when local law enforcement officers raided WILSON's home in October, 2004 and found a handgun and several thousand dollars of counterfeit money at his residence. At trial WILSON admitted that he knew the currency was there but denied knowledge of the gun. The jury rejected his defense after a short deliberation.

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution pointed out that WILSON has prior felony convictions for theft in the first degree (1987), attempted burglary in the second degree (1992), felon in possession of a firearm (1990), residential burglary and trafficking in stolen property (1990), burglary in the first degree (1992), possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and unlawful possession of a handgun (1995), and possession of methamphetamine and forgery (2002). Judge Bryan noted that WILSON was never out of prison long before committing his next crime, and hoped that perhaps he had finally learned his lesson with this stiff penalty. He also told WILSON that the long prison term would make WILSON so old when released that he would no longer be inclined to re-offend.

WILSON was identified for federal prosecution as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a federal initiative aimed at reducing gun violence by keeping guns out of the hands of felons. In Western Washington, federal dollars pay for additional prosecutors in Pierce, Kitsap, King and Cowlitz counties to identify those cases that are appropriate for federal prosecution. According to Longview Police Department spokesman Captain Stan Munger, this case is representative of the ongoing joint effort of local and federal authorities to identify and prosecute federally cases involving allegations of illegal firearms possession by convicted felons. Not only does federal prosecution often result in longer prison terms, a federal sentence often removes felons from their home area so they are no longer able to interact with familiar criminal cohorts. In Richmond, Virginia, during a pilot program of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the number of gun homicides dropped by nearly 50% between 1997 and 2000.

The case was investigated by the Longview Police Department, the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, the United States Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William H. Redkey, Jr. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington at (206) 553-4110.

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