News and Press Releases

Suspect led Police on Lengthy High-Speed Chase

January 13, 2006

ROBINSON “BODIE” SMITH, 50, of Graham, Washington was sentenced to 235 months (19.5 years) in prison for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. SMITH had been convicted by a jury following a two day trial in October, 2005. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton found that SMITH qualified as an Armed Career Criminal because of his three previous violent felony convictions. Judge Leighton noted that SMITH would be 70 years old when released from prison meaning he was imposing virtually a life sentence. But the Judge said the community must be protected. “I believe the defendant presents a threat to the community were he out any time soon,” Judge Leighton said.

SMITH was affiliated with the Gypsy Joker motorcycle gang and was charged with shooting another man in the face. The victim survived, but ultimately refused to testify against SMITH. According to evidence presented at trial, the Pierce County Sheriff was pursuing SMITH on a felony warrant for Assault issued in September, 2004. Local authorities enlisted the help of the joint federal/local Pierce County Violent Crimes Task Force to find and arrest SMITH. In early October 2004, the task force received a tip that SMITH was hiding out near Puyallup. Task force members spotted SMITH leaving the property in a white pick-up truck. When SMITH realized he was being followed, he began throwing items from the truck and led authorities on a high speed chase. SMITH eventually stopped and surrendered in Puyallup. Arresting agents found a Glock 9 mm handgun loaded with a clip of bullets in a black plastic sack in the bench seat of the pick-up truck. As a convicted felon, SMITH is barred from possessing a firearm.

SMITH has 18 prior convictions going back thirty-three years. He has convictions in Pierce and Mason Counties for Grand Larceny, 1976, Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance, 1976, First Degree Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, 1980, Rendering Criminal Assistance, 1986, First Degree Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, 1988, Custodial Assault, 1989, Felon in Possession of a Firearm,1990, Second Degree Malicious Mischief, 1997, and Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance, 1998. In asking that SMITH be declared an Armed Career Criminal and given a lengthy sentence, Special Assistant United States Attorney Kent Y. Liu detailed SMITH’s long and violent history and stated that SMITH, “represents a continuous and serious danger to society.”

SMITH was prosecuted federally as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. Unveiled by President George W. Bush in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement to reduce violent crime. Project Safe Neighborhoods networks both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and provides programs with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in Pierce County -- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The Pierce County Violent Crimes Task Force is made up of agents and officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Tacoma Police Department and the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Kent Y. Liu and Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Thomas prosecuted the case.

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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