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Press Release

U.S. District Judge In Columbus Hands Down Lengthy Prison Sentences To Gang Member, Criminals With Past Violent Convictions

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

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Three Columbus residents with lengthy criminal histories, one a known member of the Black Disciples street gang, were sentenced to federal prison without parole this week for a variety of firearm convictions, said Peter D. Leary, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

On Thursday, February 25, Roderick Phillips, 27, of Columbus, was sentenced to serve 96 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised released after previously pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. On Tuesday, February 23, two other defendants were sentenced. Clay Pugh, 36, of Columbus, was sentenced to serve 84 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Jamorris Worthey, 31, of Columbus, was sentenced to serve 84 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to two counts of possession of a stolen firearm. U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land handed down the prison sentences. There is no parole in the federal system.

“A key component to reducing violence in Columbus is bringing gang members and felons with violent criminal histories who illegally possess guns to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Leary. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners are working actively with local and state law enforcement agencies to ensure that criminals wreaking havoc in Columbus will face lengthy federal prison sentences.”

“The safety of our communities is more important than ever,” said ATF Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Arthur Peralta. “ATF will continue to support our Columbus law enforcement partners in our combined mission of reducing violent crime and taking guns out of the hands of criminals. These sentences should serve as a deterrent to anyone who is considering using a firearm to commit their crimes.”

“I am pleased with the outcome of these cases and I am thankful for our partnership with our federal partners. We will continue to work together to make cases on violent career criminals. This type of behavior will not be tolerated in Columbus, Georgia,” said Columbus Police Department Chief Freddie Blackmon.

“I am thoroughly pleased to see federal prosecution being sought in efforts to interrupt gun and gang violence in Muscogee County. As we move forward, we will continue to work and collaborate with our federal, state and local resources to eradicate gang criminal activity,” said Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman.

Phillips, a member of the Black Disciples street gang, was taken into custody by Columbus Police on October 13, 2020 in possession of a stolen gun. During the course of the arresting incident, officers found rounds of ammunition in the car Phillips was traveling in, as well as a second stolen firearm. Phillips was previously convicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (2015) and aggravated assault (2019) in the Superior Court of Muscogee County, and assault in the second degree (2013) in the Superior Court of Elmore County, Alabama.

Pugh was arrested on January 29, 2020 after accelerating away from officers during a routine traffic stop in Columbus, striking a minivan and reaching speeds over 80 mph before running the vehicle into a pole and taking off on foot. Pugh was apprehended and officers found quantities of heroin and methamphetamine in his car, as well as a .223 caliber pistol with a 60-round drum magazine and a round located in the chamber, plus additional ammunition. Pugh’s driver’s license was suspended, and he was wanted on outstanding warrants, including possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. In addition, Pugh has previously been convicted of entering auto (2005), armed robbery (2005) and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (2017) in the Superior Court of Muscogee County.

Worthey was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 11, 2020 on multiple counts, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and an arrest warrant was issued. Officers apprehended the defendant at his residence in Columbus, seizing a stolen pistol, a stolen revolver, multiple rounds of ammunition, suspected drugs and drug paraphernalia. Worthey was previously convicted for burglary (2009), theft by taking (motor vehicle) and theft by receiving (2009), theft by receiving stolen property and fleeing from law enforcement (2013), possession of cocaine and ecstasy with intent to distribute (2017) and felon in possession of a firearm (2017). These convictions all occurred in the Superior Court of Muscogee County.

The investigation was conducted as 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.

This 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

All three cases were investigated by the Columbus Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). In addition, the Worthey case was investigated with the assistance of the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Community Supervision and U.S. Marshals. The Phillips and Worthey cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Williams. The Pugh case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Easterling. 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 April 15, 2024

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods