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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 24, 2020

Convicted Felon Sentenced To Prison For Illegally Possessing A Semi-Automatic Rifle After Leading Police On A High-Speed Chase

ALBANY, Ga. – A convicted felon arrested with an assault rifle and 15 rounds of ammunition in Lanier County was sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally possessing the firearm, said Peter D. Leary, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Blake Richard Ruis, 26, of Valdosta, was sentenced to serve 96 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Louis Sands on Thursday, December 17, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Ruis previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on June 16, 2020. There is no parole in the federal system. 

On May 8, 2019, a Lanier County Sheriff’s Deputy on patrol observed the defendant driving his Ford Mustang erratically and activated his emergency lights.  The defendant failed to stop, and a pursuit ensued with the Mustang reaching speeds in excess of 115 mph. Ruis ultimately lost control of his vehicle, striking several stop signs before giving up the chase. Ruis was taken into custody without incident. Inside Ruis’s car, the arresting officer found a loaded High Point 9mm rifle and 15 rounds of ammunition belonging to the defendant. Ruis has prior felony convictions in the Superior Court of Lowndes County for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, theft by taking and theft by conversion.

“This convicted felon endangered the community by illegally possessing a gun and made things worse by leading the police on a dangerous, high-speed chase. He will have eight years in federal prison without parole to reflect on his actions,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Leary. “I want to thank the FBI and the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office for their work taking this defendant off the streets.”

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 prosecuted 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 December 23, 2020