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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Knoxville Resident Sentenced to Over Three Years in Prison for Felon in Possession Conviction

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On February 20, 2018, Steven Eugene Johnson, a.k.a. Yahya Johnson, 36, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 37 months in federal prison by the Honorable Pamela Reeves, U.S. District Court Judge. Upon his release from prison, Johnson will be supervised by the U.S. Probation office for three years.

Johnson previously pleaded guilty to violating the Gun Control Act for being a felon in possession of a firearm and the National Firearms Act for possessing an unregistered silencer.  It was illegal for Johnson to possess firearms and/or ammunition due to a 2011 felony conviction in Knox County, Tennessee.

The investigation revealed that from March through July 2017, Johnson spoke with friends about buying and selling firearms and also about acquiring and manufacturing homemade silencers for firearms.  He advertised online that he was interested in buying, selling, and trading firearms, and he sought to learn how to obtain firearms without completing a background check.  Federal investigators executed a search warrant at Johnson’s home in July 2017 and recovered a .22 caliber handgun, a .22 caliber rifle, over 600 rounds of ammunition, a homemade silencer, and materials believed to be intended for use in assembling a destructive device. Johnson admitted that he unlawfully possessed the firearms, ammunition, and silencer.         

“To protect the safety of our citizens and neighborhoods, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute aggressively convicted felons who illegally possess or attempt to gain access to firearms,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey.  “We commend the federal investigators in this case for quickly and thoroughly investigating the information provided to them regarding this defendant.  His conviction and prison sentence has disrupted any plan of violence that he may have intended to pursue at this time,” added U.S. Attorney Overbey.

 “This focused investigation will have a lasting impact on reducing firearms related violence. The sentencing illustrates the continued dedication by ATF and our partners to identify and investigate violent criminals who lessen the quality of life in our neighborhoods.  ATF’s mission is to protect the public and fight violent crime, striving to eliminate violent crime and its impact on our nation,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jack Webb.

Renae McDermott, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Knoxville Division stated, "Today's sentencing sends a message that the FBI will work with our law enforcement partners to actively investigate and pursue prosecution of individuals who pose a threat to national security and the safety of our citizens." 

This case was investigated by the FBI and ATF.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Bart Slabbekorn represented the United States in court proceedings.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.   In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Contact: 
Sharry Dedman-Beard Public Information Officer 865-225-1671 sharry.dedman-beard@usdoj.gov
Updated February 21, 2018