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Press Release

Wilmington Felon with Six Prior Convictions Receives Seven Year Sentence for Illegal Firearm Possession

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

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Wilmington man with six previous state felony convictions was sentenced to 85 months in federal prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after he reached for a gun during a traffic stop. On August 23, 2023, Michael Eugene Williams, age 28, pled guilty to the charge.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, on August 29, 2022, officers with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle the defendant was driving. The defendant was the sole occupant of the vehicle and when deputies approached the vehicle, they detected an odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. When asked by deputies to exit the vehicle, the defendant did so hesitantly and provided deputies with a false name. While outside the vehicle, the defendant failed to comply with deputies’ orders and a brief struggle ensued, during which, the defendant resisted officers and reached towards his waistband. The defendant was eventually handcuffed and a 9mm handgun was located in the defendant’s pants. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed approximately 62 grams of methamphetamine, digital scales, and drug paraphernalia.

Williams has six prior felony convictions in state court for burglary, selling heroin, trafficking heroin by possession, trafficking heroin by manufacturing, and conspiracy to traffic opium or heroin.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II.   The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, the Wilmington Police Department’s Gun Crime Task Force, and the Wilmington Police Department investigated the case and Special Assistant United States Attorney William Van Trigt prosecuted the case. Van Trigt is a prosecutor with the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office assigned to the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute federal violent crimes and other criminal matters.  This has been made possible by a grant funded by New Hanover County.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 7:23-cr-00041M-001.


Updated December 1, 2023

Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime