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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 3, 2019

Year in Review: 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods Prosecutions

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – As 2018 has drawn to a close, Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, reviews the district’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) cases.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is 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.

U.S. Attorney Canova said: “We are committed to pursuing public safety in the Northern District of Florida through prosecutions of violent criminals, and collaborations with the community and other law enforcement agencies.  We will also continue public outreach through programs such as BLAST, which encourages students to build positive relationships with law enforcement officers.  As evidenced by the long list of law enforcement partners who investigated PSN cases, it takes a team approach to fight violent crime and make our neighborhoods safe places to live, work, and go to school.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida has developed a Project Safe Neighborhoods public service announcement that we encourage you to watch and share:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9vgkiijXGw.

The following are highlights of PSN cases:

In February 2018, Savario Beshawn Champion, 30, a Pensacola convicted felon, was sentenced to 147 months in prison for armed carjacking.  Champion carjacked two men from Georgia at gunpoint at a local hotel in Escambia County.  Read more.

In April 2018, Terrell Jerome Cochran, 43, of Crestview, Florida, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, and possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon.  Read more.

In June 2018, Marcus Andre Robinson, 35, of Pensacola, was sentenced to 84 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon.  While serving a term of state probation, he was found to be in possession of more than 40 grams of methamphetamine, a Taurus 9 millimeter pistol, a Remington .243 caliber rifle, and various rounds of ammunition.

In July 2018, Gregory S. Rothwell Jr., 32, of Fort Walton Beach, was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison after having been found guilty of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Read more.

In August 2018, Jonta Terrell Carter, 29, of Pensacola, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.  In April 2018, law enforcement officers attempted to stop Carter while he was driving a vehicle in a Pensacola parking lot.  Carter fled in the vehicle until the vehicle struck a curb, and then he fled on foot while trying to conceal a firearm in his waistband.  This case is part of the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

In August 2018, Robert Wayne Cornwell, 46, of Perry, Florida, was sentenced to 96 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  During a traffic stop for suspected DUI, Cornwell attempted to flee after failing a field sobriety test.  During a struggle with officers, he attempted to grab an officer’s service pistol from the holster.  He was eventually restrained and taken into custody.

In August 2018, Kenneth Ray McLemore, 29, of Destin, Justin G. Reimche, 40, of Lorain, Ohio, and Alex A. Mena, 30, of Stockton, California, were sentenced to 106 months, 120 months, and 131 months respectively in federal prison for marijuana conspiracy and firearm offenses.  McLemore, Reimche, and Mena were charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.  McLemore and Mena were each charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and Mena was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.  Read more.

In September 2018, Jermaine Carl Curtis, 35, of Old Town, was sentenced to 125 months in prison, and William Lonnie Jenkins, of Old Town, 24, was sentenced to 63 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute hydromorphone and 100 grams or more of a heroin mixture, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.  Curtis was arrested on this charge after his release from prison, when he moved to Dixie County and into the house of co-conspirator Jenkins.  Curtis and Jenkins bought pills from sources who had prescriptions for controlled substances. Curtis and Jenkins sold the pills and were armed during the transactions.   As the supply of prescription drugs became more scarce, Curtis and Jenkins began selling Dilaudid and heroin.

In October 2018, Keenan J. Boggan, 30, of Mary Esther, Florida, was sentenced to 110 months in prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.   A state trooper noticed a vehicle weaving and traveling at speeds of 101 mph in a 65 mph zone.  The trooper attempted to catch the vehicle, which merged onto another road, but was unsuccessful.  Two other troopers responded to the area, and all of them discovered that the vehicle had crashed and was now empty.  Boggan’s co-defendant was lying face down on the ground next to the passenger side door.  An assault rifle was visible in the backseat, and a loaded pistol and three black ski masks were also located in the vehicle.  Law enforcement officers began a tracking search for the driver and found a man’s jacket and a GPS monitor belonging to Boggan along the way.  Five hours later, a canine team captured Boggan in a forested area.  He was on release for unrelated state charges when this event took place.

In October 2018, Gary Deshon Shepard, 45, of Tallahassee, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute over 5 kilograms of cocaine, distribution of cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Shepard is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. in Tallahassee.  Shepard was identified as part of a drug distribution network trafficking up to kilogram quantities of cocaine, which were transported from South Florida for further distribution in the Tallahassee area.  After a series of undercover drug purchases involving Shepard, a federal search warrant was executed at his Southwood residence during which investigators discovered and seized over a kilogram of powder cocaine, “crack” cocaine, multiple stolen firearms, and thousands of dollars in U.S. currency.

In November 2018, Darcy Andrew Darby, 26, of Fort Walton Beach, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 14, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in Pensacola.  Darby’s former roommate, W.F., contacted law enforcement officers and reported the theft of firearms from his residence.  An investigation revealed that Darcy had taken the firearms and later disposed of them by having different individuals pawn them.

In November 2018, Ronald Gray, 31, of Carrabelle, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and transmitting a threat to injure in interstate commerce.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 29, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. in Tallahassee.  While in custody for shooting multiple rounds at an occupied vehicle, Gray threatened to kill the sheriff and his family.  Gray was found in possession of two rifles and over a hundred rounds of assorted ammunition when he was arrested.

In November 2018, Justice Lewis, 24, of Tallahassee, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.  When law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle with an expired registration, Lewis, the rear passenger, fled on foot.  Officers pursued Lewis, and after jumping a fence into a neighboring wooded area, used a Taser to apprehend Lewis.  Officers observed a loaded pistol underneath Lewis.  In Lewis’s pockets, officers found tied sandwich bags containing a combined total of approximately 29 grams of marijuana, a digital scale, another baggie containing approximately 7 grams of cocaine, $340 in currency, and two cellular telephones.

In November 2018, Ryan Stuart Madden, 36, of Pace, Florida, pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.  Madden, a convicted felon, met a confidential informant (CI) and an undercover agent (UC) and sold them six firearms.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 15, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.

In December 2018, Emil Joseph Bayus, 55, from various locations in Ohio, pleaded guilty to bank robbery.  A man (who was later determined to be defendant Louis Martin Cillo) informed a bank teller “this is a robbery” and slid a note to the teller with “robbery” written on it.  After receiving approximately $2,090, Cillo left the building, ran across the parking lot through a retention pond, and got into a vehicle which drove away.  The next day, a law enforcement officer from another state advised that the vehicle and tag matched a bank robbery committed by Bayus that occurred in Ohio.  Bayus was the getaway driver in the Pensacola robbery.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 27, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in Pensacola.

In December 2018, Ben Granberry, 56, of Graceville, Florida, after a day and a half trial, was convicted of possessing with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.  Granberry is scheduled to be sentenced on February 14, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. in Tallahassee.  A confidential informant (CI) traveled to the Atlanta area along with two other people to pick up drugs for Granberry.  The CI decided once there not to participate and abandoned the other people.  After the CI’s mother contacted law enforcement officers, the CI told them that Granberry had given the CI a firearm that Granberry now wanted returned to him.  At the officers’ direction, the CI delivered the firearm to Granberry’s residence.  Additional firearms and methamphetamine, as well as drug paraphernalia, including glass pipes and scales, were recovered in the residence.

In December 2018, Brian M. Stadelmaier, 30, of Webster, Florida, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for possessing a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon.  Late one night, an Escambia County sheriff’s deputy observed a vehicle with three occupants and no lights turned on, parked on a street that has no residences.  As the deputy approached the vehicle on foot, he noticed the sole backseat passenger (Stadelmaier) had a firearm next to him.  Stadelmaier was removed from the vehicle.  The firearm had been stolen as part of a burglary in Pensacola along with approximately 50 other firearms.  Stadelmaier’s firearm was loaded, and he possessed methamphetamine on his person.

These cases were investigated by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies including:

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives;
  • Drug Enforcement Administration;
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation;
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement;
  • Florida Highway Patrol;
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission;
  • Eglin Air Force Base;
  • Escambia County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Jackson County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Leon County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Taylor County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Pensacola Police Department;
  • Gulf Breeze Police Department;
  • Carrabelle Police Department;
  • Tallahassee Police Department;
  • Perry Police Department;
  • Lorain City Police Department (Ohio); and
  • Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

Learn more about PSN in the Northern District of Florida.

Learn more about the national initiative.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  To access available public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

Updated January 3, 2019