Baltimore Firearms Trafficker Sentenced to 42 Months in Federal Prison for Illegally Dealing in Firearms
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Maddox sentenced Deron Johnson, a/k/a “DJ,” age 52, of Baltimore, Maryland, to 19 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery and for committing the robbery.
The sentence was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Commissioner Richard Worley of the Baltimore Police Department.
According to their plea agreements, on September 29, 2020, Johnson and co-defendants George Felds and Joseph Williams conspired to rob a 16-year-old of drugs and drug proceeds. Specifically, at approximately 4:24 a.m., Johnson and the victim pulled into the parking lot of a hotel in the 6500 block of Frankford Avenue in Baltimore, where Williams had been staying for several months, selling drugs under a fictitious name. Johnson was working as a “hack” driver and gave the victim a ride to the hotel on the ruse that the victim would be selling drugs to Williams and Fields.
As detailed in the plea agreements, Williams and Fields approached Johnson’s van and Fields held out money as though he was ready to make a purchase. Williams and Fields then began robbing the victim while Johnson walked to the rear of the van and smoked. Fields admitted that he pinned the victim down in the front passenger seat of the van and went through his pockets. The victim struggled, flailing his arms and legs. Williams admitted that he then pulled out a handgun and fired a single shot into the victim’s chest at close range. The victim stumbled away from the van and collapsed on the ground. Johnson, Williams, and Fields and then got into the van and Johnson drove away. A hotel surveillance camera captured the entire incident. The victim died later that day after being taken to the hospital. No drugs, money, or cell phone were recovered from the victim’s personal effects.
Later that morning, the conspirators returned to the hotel in Johnson’s van, while police were still processing the scene. Johnson, Williams, and Fields entered the hotel together. Police recognized the van from the hotel surveillance footage and towed the van and detained Johnson. A search warrant was executed on the van and law enforcement recovered a single bullet from the front row carpet. On October 1, 2020, Johnson’s phone was searched and was found to contain evidence of the plan to rob the victim, including: text messages between Johnson and Williams; a record of phone calls between Johnson and the victim; several calls exchanged between Johnson and phone numbers used by Williams in the hours before and after the murder; a photograph of Johnson with Williams and Fields; and Fields’ contact information was in Johnson’s contacts.
A cell phone seized from Williams at the time of his arrest revealed that Williams had been staying at the hotel, where he was also dealing drugs and that he was in dire need of money. The phone also contained messages immediately following the murder in which Williams made plans to dispose of the murder weapon and directed another individual to destroy evidence.
Co-defendants Joseph Williams, a/k/a “Blue,” age 33, and George Fields, a/k/a “Chin,” age 49, both of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and were sentenced to 26 years and 25 years in federal prison, respectively.
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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Hagan, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psn and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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