Skip to main content
Press Release

Fayetteville Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Firearm

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

WINSTON SALEM – A North Carolina man pled guilty today to a felony firearm offense after fleeing a traffic stop in January, announced Sandra J. Hairston, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.

According to court documents, William Lawrence Bethea, Jr., 26, was charged with felony possession of a firearm after a detective with the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office attempted a traffic stop in January, 2023, and Bethea fled the vehicle. At the time, Bethea was well known to detectives. In his attempt to flee, he discarded a firearm which was then collected by the pursuing detective. Bethea was arrested a few days later on a federal warrant where he mentioned to authorities that they must have known he was in possession of a firearm at the time.

At the time of the incident, Bethea had been convicted in the Superior Court of Cumberland County of felony common law robbery and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. Therefore, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place on August 16, 2023, at 2:00 pm in Winston Salem Courtroom Number Four before the Honorable Loretta C. Biggs. At sentencing, Bethea faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a period of supervised release of up to three years, and monetary penalties.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Hoke County Sheriff's Office, Raeford Police Department, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Hoke County Emergency Management investigated the case. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Ann Courtney.

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 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.


Updated March 7, 2023