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Press Release

Malden Man Pleads Guilty to Drug and Firearms Conspiracy Involving Machine Gun

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant was serving probation sentence and on pretrial release for a pending state drug trafficking case while conspiring to distribute drugs and brandishing a firearm

BOSTON – A Malden man pleaded guilty yesterday in connection with his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy in which he possessed over 150 grams of cocaine base and other controlled substances and conspired to possess firearms.

Phillips Charles, a/k/a “PHON C,” 22, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances and one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Sept. 7, 2022. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of 78 months in prison.

While Charles was on pretrial release from Malden District Court and Middlesex Superior Court, and later serving a probation sentence, he continued to conspire with others involved in the conspiracy to distribute large quantities of controlled substances. Members of the conspiracy also possessed firearms, including multiple firearms with “selector switches” that convert firearms into machine guns, to protect the drug trafficking operation and target rival gang members. Charles remained on pretrial release until he was arrested and charged in state court with possessing a firearm in December 2020.

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy provides for a maximum penalty of life in prison because a machine gun was involved in the offense, five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

First Assistant United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy: Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts States Police; and Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorneys’ Offices; Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk and Hancock (Maine) County Sheriffs’ Departments; U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine; Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; and the Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Danvers, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Salem, Saugus, Somerville, Revere, Bolton (Maine), Bangor (Maine), Portland (Maine) and Westbrook (Maine) Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Mallard of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Updated April 27, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses