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Press Release

Previously Convicted Felon Admits Three Felon in Possession of Firearm Charges, One in Connection with a Shooting

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man today admitted being a felon in possession of three different firearms on three different days in April and May 2019, and to using one of the firearms in a shooting, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Samaad Kelly, a/k/a “Spud,” 33, of Newark, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas to an information charging him with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of being a felon in possession of ammunition.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On April 24, 2019, officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office received information that Kelly was driving in Newark in a silver BMW with a temporary registration and was in possession of a firearm. The officers observed the BMW, which had a fictitious registration, and conducted a stop. Kelly, who was driving the BMW, could not provide the officers with any identification, registration, or proof of insurance. After conducting a search of the BMW, the officers located a Taurus semi-automatic 9 millimeter handgun in the glove box. The officers arrested Kelly, and Kelly remained in custody until May 2, 2019, when he was released on bail.

On May 7, 2019, officers from the Newark Police Department responded to a report of gun shots near Astor Street in Newark. Upon their arrival, they found one 9 millimeter discharged shell casing and one 9 millimeter round of live ammunition. The officers obtained video footage from surveillance cameras located nearby, which showed Kelly point and fire a black handgun in the direction of another individual.

On May 10, 2019, detectives from the Newark Police Department were patrolling a section of Newark in the vicinity of Astor Street and Brunswick Street. One of the detectives observed Kelly wearing a fanny pack that appeared to be heavily weighed down. When the detectives approached Kelly, he immediately fled on foot. While running away from the detectives, Kelly unclipped the fanny pack and attempted to throw it over a fence. The detectives apprehended Kelly, recovered the fanny pack, and found inside of it a Ruger 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol, loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition. The detectives arrested Kelly.

Kelly has numerous prior felony convictions, including one for attempted aggravated assault in 2008 and one for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon in 2010. Each felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 20, 2020.

This case is 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 ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson, Newark Field Division with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II, police officers and detectives of the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose, and the Essex County Sherriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura, for their work on the case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Amore of the Government Fraud Unit in Newark.

Updated June 15, 2020

Project Guardian
Press Release Number: 20-180