Jury Convicts Man of Drug and Firearm Charges as Repeat Offender
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Nebraska
Acting United States Attorney Susan Lehr announced that a federal jury on January 25, 2024, returned verdicts against Donnale Clay, 40, of Tacoma, Washington. The jury found Clay not guilty of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and guilty of felon in possession of a firearm. The jury also found Clay guilty of the lesser-included offense of possession of methamphetamine. The verdicts followed a two-day trial in front of United States District Judge Brian C. Buescher. Judge Buescher scheduled sentencing for April 24, 2024. Clay faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the firearm conviction and a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days up to two years for the drug charge.
The evidence at trial established that on April 27, 2022, interdiction officers with a DEA task force were conducting routine surveillance at the Omaha bus terminal when a bus from Denver arrived. Officers visually examined the luggage compartment and noticed a suspicious suitcase. Officers set the suitcase next to the bus to observe if anyone would pick it up. Clay came and retrieved the suitcase. During a consensual conversation, the officer noticed other suspicious factors about Clay’s travel. Clay told the officer he was travelling from Tacoma to St. Paul, Minnesota. After granting consent to search the suitcase, Clay ran away. He was taken into custody after a short pursuit.
A search of the suitcase uncovered three handguns, including a loaded .38-caliber Colt semi-automatic. A search of a backpack Clay had been wearing uncovered about 689 grams (1.51 pounds) of methamphetamine, about 60 grams (weight with packaging) of fentanyl pills, and an Airsoft pistol.
After the jury returned the guilty verdicts on the two charges, it found that Clay had a prior conviction for a drug offense, enhancing his minimum and maximum sentences for the possession charge.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Nebraska State Patrol. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office conducted forensic testing of the drugs. An agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also testified.
Updated February 5, 2024