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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Convicted Felon Faces Prison Time For Illegally Possessing An Assault Rifle

ALBANY, Ga. – A convicted felon caught with an assault rifle and more than a dozen rounds of ammunition has pleaded guilty for his crime, said Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Richard Blake Ruis, 26, of Valdosta, entered a guilty plea to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon before U.S. District Judge Louis Sands on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The charge carries a maximum ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been scheduled. There is no parole in the federal system. 

A Lanier County Sheriff’s Deputy on patrol the night of May 8, 2019 attempted to pull over the defendant after observing him driving his Ford Mustang erratically, but the defendant increased his speed and failed to stop, eventually losing control of his car and striking several stop signs before giving up the chase. Ruis was taken into custody without incident. Inside Ruis’ car, the arresting officer found a High Point 9mm assault rifle, along with 15 rounds of ammunition, all of which the defendant admitted belonged to him. Ruis has prior convictions in the Superior Court of Lowndes County for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and theft by taking.

“It is illegal for convicted felons to carry firearms, period. We will prosecute those found in violation of this law. Keeping firearms out of the hands of convicted felons is an important part of our strategy to reduce violent crime across the entire Middle District of Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “We are working closely with our law enforcement partners to decrease violent crime in our district. I want to thank the FBI and the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office for their work in this case.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonja Profit is prosecuting the case for the Government. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated June 18, 2020