Recidivist Gang Member Receives 13 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking and Possession of a Sawed-Off Rifle
RALEIGH – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, III sentenced MARVIN EARL BLANKS, JR., 33, of Lumberton, North Carolina, to 84 months imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release.
BLANKS was named in a two-count Indictment on June 15, 2017 charging him with one count of Possession of Stolen Firearms and one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. On December 21, 2017, BLANKS pled guilty to those charges.
On August 12, 2016, officers of the Elizabethtown Police Department took a report as to the theft of a .38 caliber Taurus firearm. The victim advised that he had a vehicle washed earlier in the day at The Car Wash in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, and his firearm had been in the vehicle’s center console. When he looked in the center console that evening, the firearm was no longer there. Officers interviewed employees that had washed the vehicle, including BLANKS. BLANKS denied taking a firearm.
On September 8, 2016, officers with the Lumberton Police Department responded to a robbery call. The victim informed officers that he had been walking from church to the Shop & Save convenience store to get a soda when a group of individuals began yelling at him from a parking lot. On his way back to the church after visiting the store, two individuals, one later identified as BLANKS, approached the victim and began asking questions. BLANKS then pointed a gun at the victim. The victim attempted to run, but BLANKS and his accomplice caught the victim and pushed him to the ground. BLANKS pointed the gun to the victim’s head while the other man took the victim’s cellphone and money. After the robbery, the victim called 911 from the church. He advised law enforcement that he had been robbed and that he had seen BLANKS walk into the Shop & Save.
Lumberton Police Officers responded and located BLANKS inside the convenience store based on the victim’s description. Officers ordered BLANKS to place his hands on the counter and initiated a search. In BLANKS’ pocket, they found the victim’s stolen cell phone and a .38 caliber Taurus. Law enforcement transported the victim to the store, and the victim positively identified BLANKS as the one who robbed him. The Taurus handgun was identified by serial number as the same one stolen from The Car Wash on August 12, 2016, less than a month before the robbery.
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.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Elizabethtown Police Department, the Lumberton Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh handled the prosecution of this case for the government.