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Press Release

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearm Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

Columbia, SOUTH CAROLINA —Paul Burton, 27, of Columbia, has pleaded guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that on February 15, 2022, Burton posted a live video on social media at a Columbia gas station. In the video, he bragged about successfully robbing a rival gang member, who was still at the gas station, of a gold chain. During the video, Burton threatened the rival gang member with a firearm inside of the gas station. Later that same day, the City of Columbia Police Department conducted a traffic stop on a car Burton was driving. Because the car smelled of marijuana, police officers searched the car and found a loaded pistol.

On February 16, 2022, members of the Midlands Gang Task Force interviewed Burton and he and admitted to being in possession of the same pistol found in the car during the traffic stop. Burton is prohibited from possessing firearms based upon his prior convictions for Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature, Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Violent Crime, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana.

Burton faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000, restitution, and 3 years of supervision to follow any prison term.  United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Burton after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the United States Probation Office.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, 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.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the City of Columbia Police Department, and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lamar J. Fyall is prosecuting the case.


Brook Andrews, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (803) 929-3000

Updated December 12, 2022