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Press Release

Southwest Georgia Man Convicted of Illegally Possessing a Firearm

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

VALDOSTA, Ga. – A Moultrie, Georgia, resident previously convicted of armed robbery was found guilty by a federal jury this week of illegally possessing a firearm.

Maurice A. Ridley, 47, was found guilty of one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on May 14. The trial began on May 13 before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands at the federal courthouse in Valdosta. Ridley faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a maximum $250,000 fine.

“It is illegal for convicted felons to possess firearms, and a repeat offender caught with a loaded gun will face federal prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Law enforcement at every level and across the Middle District of Georgia is working to reduce violent crime and make our communities safer.”

“The FBI is proud to work with our local partners to prevent violence in our communities by removing repeat offenders illegally possessing firearms from the streets by any legal means necessary,” said Rich Bilson, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent of FBI Atlanta’s Valdosta Office. “We remain steadfast in reducing violent crime in Moultrie and throughout the state.”

“The Moultrie Police Department is pleased to once again to join with our federal partners to make our city streets a little safer. Project Safe Neighborhoods has been an overwhelming success, and we are extremely proud to contribute to that success with our own FBI Task Force Officer, Captain Steve Exum. We would like to thank everyone involved with this case and acknowledge their commitment to our great community,” said Moultrie Police Chief Chad L. Castleberry.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Moultrie Police Department officers were patrolling a neighborhood on Feb. 21, 2020, and observed Ridley paying close attention to the marked police vehicles as they drove by him. Officers in an unmarked police vehicle observed Ridley toss a plastic bag of suspected narcotics in a yard. When officers in that unmarked car pulled up behind Ridley to speak with him, Ridley fled on foot. He was given verbal commands to stop, and he refused. A firearm fell from Ridley as he ran away. Ridley ran through the back yards of two private residences on Second Avenue Northwest. Other officers joined the chase and apprehended Ridley after a brief struggle on the ground. The firearm that fell from Ridley was a loaded semi-automatic handgun with an obliterated serial number. Ridley was convicted in 1996 for armed robbery in Colquitt County, Georgia, Superior Court for which he was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. It is illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Moultrie Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonja Profit is prosecuting the case for the Government.

Updated May 20, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses