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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Henderson Man Sentenced to 36 Months in Federal Prison for Felon in Possession of a Firearm Case

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today, LAJOHN CHAMPION, 28, of Henderson, North Carolina was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, III to 36 months imprisonment followed by 3 years’ supervised release.

CHAMPION was named in an Indictment on November 29, 2017.  On March 5, 2018, CHAMPION pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.

On November 17, 2017, members of the Henderson Police Department received information that CHAMPION, a previously convicted felon, was in possession of a firearm and operating a vehicle located at a gas station in Henderson.

Officers responded to the A & A Food Mart in Henderson and observed CHAMPION driving a Honda Accord.  Officers, knowing CHAMPION did not possess a valid driver’s license, conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle as it turned into the driveway of a residence in Henderson.  As the vehicle came to a stop, CHAMPION fled from the driver’s seat of the vehicle carrying a book bag. Officers pursued CHAMPION and, after searching the area, located CHAMPION coming out of a wooded area.  CHAMPION was no longer in possession of a book bag.

In response to the foot chase, a K9 unit responded to the scene and located the book bag near a nearby residence.  A search of the book bag revealed a loaded 9mm pistol.  CHAMPION was arrested and transported to the Henderson Police Department. CHAMPION acknowledged the firearm belonged to him.

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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

In support of PSN, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina has implemented the Take Back North Carolina Initiative.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Henderson Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Assistant United States Attorney S. Katherine Burnette prosecuted this case.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated June 14, 2018