Columbia Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Federal Prison
Columbia, South Carolina --- Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced that James Eric Hampton, Jr., 37, of Columbia, was sentenced to seven years in federal prison today after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Evidence presented in court showed that on the night of June 10, 2019, an officer with the University of South Carolina Police Department observed a vehicle at the intersection of Gervais Street and Assembly Street and noticed that it had a suspended license plate. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. A search of the vehicle revealed over an ounce of marijuana, packed in baggies, along with a digital scale and cash. Hampton admitted to having sold marijuana earlier. The officer also located a stolen, loaded Ruger 9mm handgun, which Hampton admitted to purchasing off the street. Hampton had been released from the South Carolina Department of Corrections a year earlier after serving time for possession of a firearm.
Hampton was placed under arrested on state charges and later indicted federally. Hampton, who was later released on federal bond with GPS monitoring, absconded supervision, cut off the ankle monitor, and fled to North Carolina, where the United States Marshal’s Service apprehended him and returned him to South Carolina where he remained in custody. As a result, Hampton received an enhancement for obstruction of justice, his federal bond was revoked, and a portion of the bond was forfeited.
Hampton is a felon and prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law based upon prior state convictions. Hampton has prior state convictions from Richland, Fairfield, Newberry, and Lexington Counties for use of a vehicle without permission, driving under suspension, unlawful possession of a firearm, burglary 3rd degree, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, giving false information, simple possession of marijuana, habitual traffic offender, assault and battery 2nd degree, and possession of a pistol by an unlawful person convicted of a crime of violence.
United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis of Columbia sentenced Hampton to 84 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the University of South Carolina Police Department. The case was prosecuted as part of the 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.
Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes prosecuted the case.