News and Press Releases

TACOMA FELON SENTENCED TO 70 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR GUN POSSESSION
Federal Way Police Officer Makes Traffic Stop, Finds Handgun in Car

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2008

BENNIE D. WASHINGTON, 41, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. WASHINGTON was arrested April 1, 2008, following a traffic stop in Federal Way. Officers discovered a firearm in the car he was driving. The gun was in easy reach of the driver’s seat, and WASHINGTON was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of prior felony convictions. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard Jones asked, “What is it going to take to get your attention to the fact that you cannot possess a firearm?”

According to the records filed in the case, WASHINGTON was pulled over after officers saw him make in illegal right hand turn. A check of the car registration indicated the owner’s driver’s license had been suspended. WASHINGTON was not the owner of the car, but the officers ran his identification and discovered that his license had also been suspended. When WASHINGTON was searched following his arrest, the officers found ammunition in his pockets and a Smith and Wesson .38 on the driver’s side floor of the front seat. WASHINGTON has these prior felony convictions: Burglary, 1985, Pierce County; Robbery, 1993, Thurston County; Burglary, 1996, Yakima County; and Possession of a Firearm, 1996, Yakima County. Because of these convictions, WASHINGTON was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

WASHINGTON was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled by President George W. Bush in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN 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 King County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Federal Way Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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