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Press Release

Convicted Felon, With Lengthy Criminal History, Is Guilty On Gun Charge

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

MACON – A federal jury has found a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history guilty for an illegal gun possession charge, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. Ronnie Lee Hughes, 39, of Griffin, Georgia was found guilty on one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. The jury returned the guilty verdict Wednesday, July 17, 2019, following a day-long trial before the Honorable Marc Treadwell. The federal government has filed a notice of sentencing enhancement due to the defendant’s eight prior convictions (see below) and, therefore, the defendant faces a minimum 15 years imprisonment up to life in prison, five years supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Mr. Hughes will be sentenced on October 22, 2019.

According to facts presented at trial, a Confidential Informant (CI) told Lamar County deputies that Mr. Hughes, a convicted felon on parole, was selling guns. Lamar County deputies worked with the CI to set up a meeting on August 31, 2016, with the intent of the CI to arrange a purchase of the guns from Mr. Hughes. Hughes thought the buyer would be an associate of the CI, and Hughes would pay the CI a commission for arranging the sale. In one conversation between the CI and Mr. Hughes, the defendant warned that the buyer arranged by the CI “better not be a cop” because he was a convicted felon and it was illegal for him to sell guns. At the appointed time and place for the sale, Lamar County deputies met Mr. Hughes and took him into custody, seizing four weapons and ammunition. Mr. Hughes has eight prior felony state convictions beginning in 1999, including four separate Entering Auto convictions, three separate Burglary convictions, and one Theft by Taking conviction. His past crimes occurred in Upson, Laurens, Pike and Monroe counties, all charged in Superior Court. Mr. Hughes last conviction was in Monroe County Superior Court in December 2008 for Burglary. Mr. Hughes was on parole when he was taken into custody by Lamar County deputies on August 31, 2016.

“We are making it a priority in Middle Georgia to get guns out of the hands of dangerous felons,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “To all convicted felons:  DO NOT POSSESS A GUN.  Law enforcement will find you and our office will prosecute you.  The unlawful possession of guns by convicted felons leads to violence in the streets.  Getting guns out of the hands of convicted felons is a proven strategy to reduce violence in communities.  I want to thank the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and ATF for their hard work in this case.”

This prosecution is a part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, 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 was investigated by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Keyes and Paul McCommon are 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.

Updated July 22, 2019

Project Safe Neighborhoods