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Press Release

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Possessing a Firearm

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

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA —Raphiel Coleman, 37, of Columbia, has pleaded guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed Richland County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to a convenience store on Broad River Road concerning a man with a gun.  When the deputies arrived, they saw Coleman wearing the same clothing as the man described by the 911 caller.  They ordered him to the ground, but Coleman fled behind the store.  One deputy gave chase on foot and the other deputy followed in the police car.  Eventually, they caught Coleman, and they found one .357 caliber bullet in his pocket.  With the help of a police dog, they retraced their steps and found a handgun on the ground in a bush nearby.  The police also found approximately 2 grams of marijuana in Coleman’s pocket.

Federal law prohibits Coleman from possessing a firearm because of his prior convictions for burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle, failure to stop for a blue light, intimidation of a juror or witness, possession of less than 1 gram of methamphetamine, and pointing and presenting a weapon.

Coleman faces a maximum penalty of 10 years federal prison.  He also faces a fine of up to $250,000, restitution and 5 years, of supervision to follow the term of imprisonment.   United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Coleman after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. 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) and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney William K. Witherspoon is prosecuting the case.



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

Updated March 27, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses