News and Press Releases


September 16, 2005

WILLIAM EMORY McDOWELL, 30, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced today to 175 months (14.6 years) in prison in Federal District Court in Tacoma for five charges relating to trafficking of crack cocaine, gun possession and witness tampering. In sentencing the defendant, United States District Judge Ronald B. Leighton commented that McDOWELL had "been very tenacious" in his previous criminal activity and "had worked very hard to get" to such a long sentence. In addressing the defendant, Judge Leighton said that while the defendant was smart and had some good qualities, he was also "a person who preys on others, a person who disregards the rights of others" and had repeatedly engaged in "activities that put ... lives at risk."

McDOWELL was convicted by a jury in December 2004 of two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; being a violent felon in possession of body armor; possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute; and tampering with a witness.

Court records show that on March 18, 2004, agents and officers with the Pierce County Violent Crime Task Force served a Pierce County Superior Court search warrant on the person of WILLIAM EMORY McDOWELL, along with the apartment and car that he shared with his girlfriend.

The search of the one-bedroom apartment resulted in the recovery of more than two and one-half grams of cocaine base ("crack"), a bulletproof vest, an assortment of ammunition in various calibers, and a loaded Raven Arms MP-25 semiautomatic pistol. From the trunk of McDOWELL's girlfriend's car, police recovered a bag that contained a Taurus .44 magnum revolver and a .40 caliber semi-automatic assault rifle. Law enforcement officers later confirmed that both the Raven pistol and the Taurus revolver had been reported stolen.

McDOWELL's previous convictions included the following felonies out of Pierce County Superior Court: Assault in the Second Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, and Unlawful Possession of Cocaine.

Starting on the evening of his arrest on March 18, 2004 and continuing through the evening before his transfer from the Pierce County Jail to federal custody on March 29, 2004, defendant McDOWELL placed multiple telephone calls to his girlfriend trying to persuade her to falsely say that the three guns recovered by the police on March 18th were hers. The girlfriend later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation for Making a False Statement to Police. During McDOWELL's sentencing hearing, Judge Leighton called those efforts to place blame on others "unconscionable and very revealing."

McDOWELL was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled by President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods, a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement, is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in Tacoma and Pierce County -- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

This case was primarily investigated by members of the Pierce County Violent Crime Task Force, made up of agents and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Tacoma Police Department, the Lakewood Police Department, the State Department of Correction, and the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. The case was investigated and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory A. Gruber.

For further 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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