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Press Release

New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Gun Violations, Making False Statements to a Federal Firearms Licensee

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS –  U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that GERNELL HANKTON, age 34, of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty on December 20, 2023 to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2), and one count of making a false and fictitious statement during the purchase of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a)(6), 924(a)(2), and 2.

According to court documents, HANKTON is a convicted felon, and is prohibited from possessing and purchasing firearms.  In 2009, HANKTON was convicted of possession of cocaine.  In 2010, HANKTON was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On July 20, 2019, HANKTON was involved in a hit-and-run at the McDonald’s on Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans, LA.  During the hit-and-run, HANKTON’s vehicle struck another vehicle as both vehicles were in the drive-thru. When the passenger of the vehicle struck by HANKTON’s vehicle exited her vehicle, HANKTON attempted to drive off, striking the female passenger and a security guard who was attempting to respond to the accident.  The driver of the vehicle that was struck by HANKTON’s vehicle followed behind HANKTON’s vehicle.  HANKTON eventually exited his vehicle, brandished a Glock Model 23, .40 caliber pistol, and fired multiple rounds of ammunition into the driver’s vehicle. The driver was not injured.  HANKTON fled the scene.  Days later, officers with the New Orleans Police Department located HANKTON and located the firearm used in the shooting inside of HANKTON’s vehicle.

Within days of being released on bond, HANKTON went to a local firearm store and attempted to take possession of a firearm that he claimed was purchased by his girlfriend.  HANKTON’s girlfriend completed an ATF 4473 firearm, attesting that she purchased the firearm for herself.  HANKTON’s girlfriend later recanted her statement, admitting that the firearm was purchased for HANKTON. HANKTON made a false statement on the ATF 4473 form for the purpose of deceiving the firearms dealer into selling him a firearm.

On December 9, 2020, New Orleans Police Department officers conducted surveillance near the intersection of S. Liberty and St. Andrew Streets when they observed HANKTON standing by his truck.  HANKTON opened the driver’s side door of his vehicle. Officers observed HANKTON lift up a Radical Firearms, LLC Model AR-15, .223 caliber rifle from behind the driver’s seat of his truck. The officers conducted a stop of HANKTON and located the rifle on the rear driver’s seat.

HANKTON faces a sentence up to 10 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000.00,  up to 3 years of supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00 for each count.  The Honorable Sarah S. Vance, United States District Court Judge, will sentence HANKTON on March 20, 2024.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Brittany L. Reed of the Public Integrity Unit is in charge of the prosecution.




Shane M. Jones

Public Information Officer

United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

United States Department of Justice

Updated December 27, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods