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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Former Westmoreland County Sheriff's Deputy Charged with Possession of Firearms With Obliterated Serial Numbers

Trusted with Destroying the Firearms, Melvin Hinson Removed
the Serial Numbers and Sold or Traded The Firearms

RICHMOND, Va. – Melvin Hinson, 65, of Westmoreland County, Virginia, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury on a charge of possessing firearms with the manufacturers’ serial numbers obliterated or removed. 

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Charles E. Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington
Field Division, made the announcement after Hinson’s indictment was returned. 

Hinson currently faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The indictment alleges that from March 1 to March 19, 2014, Hinson possessed a Rohm 38 Special caliber revolver, model RG38; a Harrington and Richardson (H&R) 32 caliber revolver; and a Jimenez Arms 9mm caliber semi-automatic pistol, all with obliterated serial numbers.  Hinson was arrested on April 15, 2015, on a Criminal Complaint alleging this same offense.  According to the affidavit submitted in support of that Complaint, Hinson, a retired Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Deputy, received firearms from law enforcement agencies for the purpose of destroying them.     However, it is alleged, rather than do so, as required, he removed the serial numbers and sold or traded the firearms.  According to the affidavit, Hinson distributed at least 12 firearms that have been recovered, each with the manufacturer’s serial number removed or obliterated, including a Kel-Tec carbine style assault rifle with a folding stock and a short-barreled shotgun.  The affidavit asserts that a number of these firearms were determined to have come from the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office. 

This case was investigated by ATF, with the assistance of Virginia State Police, the Colonial Beach Police Department and the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Olivia L. Norman is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:15-cr-81.

Updated May 6, 2015