Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that Melvin Cain Silas, Jr., age 27, of Columbia, plead guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis, of Columbia, accepted the guilty plea and will impose a sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented in court during the guilty plea hearing established that at approximately 10:28am on November 10, 2016, a deputy with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department on patrol on Farrow Road encountered a Jeep bearing Colorado license plates and determined that it had previously been reported stolen from Georgia. Once the deputy activated his blue lights and siren, the Jeep failed to stop and ultimately crashed. The four occupants attempted to flee on foot, but deputies were able to apprehend Silas, the driver, and one of the passengers. The other two passengers were able to get away. A search incident to arrest revealed a loaded Taurus .380 handgun in Silas’ front pants pocket. A search of the Jeep revealed two additional firearms, one of which was linked to the passenger that was apprehended. That passenger has also been charged federally with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. After waiving his rights, Silas admitted to stealing the Jeep from the side of the road in Blythewood and using a screwdriver to start it. Silas also admitted to buying the Taurus handgun off the street.
Silas is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior state convictions, which includes assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (two separate counts), grand larceny, and burglary 2nd degree (two separate counts). Silas was on state supervision when this incident occurred.
Silas faces a maximum of ten years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release on the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.
Stacey D. Haynes (803) 929-3000