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Justice News

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Federal Inmate At Canaan Penitentiary Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Assault Another Inmate

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that an inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan, Pennsylvania, has pleaded guilty to being involved in a conspiracy to assault another inmate with a dangerous weapon.

     Johnnie Williams, age 36, formerly of Memphis, Tennessee, entered the guilty plea before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt, in federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

     United States Attorney Peter Smith stated that the victim was another inmate who sustained a minor injury when Williams stabbed him with a sharpened weapon commonly referred to as a shank.  Charges are pending against the other alleged conspirator who wielded a mace-type weapon constructed from a lock attached to a sock who also attempted to assault the victim inmate before being subdued by correctional officers.  The assault occurred in February 2014.      

     The case was investigated by the FBI and the Special Investigation Section at USP-Canaan.  Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney John Gurganus.

     Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is five years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Updated April 17, 2015