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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Friday, December 13, 2013

Four Time Felon Exiled To Over 10 Years In Prison For Illegal Possession Of A Gun And Witness Tampering

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Gerod Simmons, age 30, of Lancaster, South Carolina, today to 125 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and witness tampering.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Steven L. Gerido of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; and Chief Teresa Chambers of the U.S. Park Police.

According to his plea agreement, on September 1, 2012, Simmons was arrested in Maryland after police found a loaded .40 caliber pistol under the front passenger seat of a car where Simmons was sitting. Simmons was charged with being a felon in possession of a gun. The car was registered to his mother in Lancaster, South Carolina. The gun had been purchased by his co-defendant, Canyon Nelson, in Lancaster in 2011. Simmons had four previous drug convictions and was prohibited from possessing a gun.

Simmons was detained after his arrest and called Nelson almost every day during September and October, 2012. During a call on September 7, 2012, Simmons suggested that Nelson should say that she had placed the gun under the seat without his knowledge. In that phone call and two subsequent letters mailed to Nelson’s home, Simmons told Nelson to say that they had driven around town running errands on the morning of August 31, 2012, and that she placed the gun under the passenger seat without his knowledge, after he got out of the car at the bank where she cashed her paycheck.

On November 7, 2012, Nelson falsely testified before the grand jury that on August 31, 2012, she and Simmons had driven around town running errands. Nelson said she had paid her light bill and cashed her pay check at the bank. Investigation showed that the power company had no record of any payments made by Nelson or Simmons the morning of August 31, 2012. Video recordings of the bank lobby reveal that neither Nelson nor Simmons went into the building that morning.

Canyon Nelson, age 25, of Lancaster, South Carolina, previously pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the grand jury and was sentenced to five months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the ATF and U.S. Park Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Hollis R. Weisman, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt of the U.S. Justice Department, who prosecuted the case.

Updated January 26, 2015