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Press Release

Athens Residents Sentenced For Possessing Firearms In Furtherance Of Drug Trafficking Under Project Safe Neighborhoods

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

ATHENS: Charles E. Peeler, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces that on July 11, 2018, United States District Court Judge C. Ashley Royal sentenced Robert Jackson, age 24, of Athens, GA, and Donald Hatfield, age 22, of Jefferson, GA, to 60 months’ imprisonment each for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. 

There is no parole in the federal system. 

The pair entered guilty pleas on April 10, 2018.  As stipulated in their plea agreements, on December 14, 2016, Athens-Clarke County Police Department officers executed a search warrant at Jackson and Hatfield’s shared apartment based on information that marijuana and other drugs were being distributed from the residence.  In the subsequent search, police seized five loaded firearms, along with digital scales, suspected alprazolam pills, marijuana, and marijuana edibles.  Receipts recovered at the scene also showed that both Jackson and Hatfield had spent large amounts in cash for cars and jewelry, despite the fact that neither one was employed.

“In the short term, selling drugs may lead to cars and jewelry,” said United States Attorney Charles Peeler.  “But in the long term, it will only lead to prison time.”

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. 

The case was investigated by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Assistant United States Attorneys Graham A. Thorpe and Peter D. Leary prosecuted the case for the United States.

Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.

Updated July 12, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods