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Press Release

Greenville Man Looking to Join ISIS Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison on Gun Charge

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

Greenville, South Carolina-------United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Michael Bruce Messer, Jr., age 51, of Greenville, South Carolina, was sentenced in federal court in Greenville after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.  United States District Judge Bruce H. Hendricks sentenced Messer to the statutory maximum term of 120 months in federal prison, followed by court-ordered supervision.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Evidence presented to the court established that on April 11, 2018, Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) went to Messer’s residence to meet with him.  While there, they recovered a .38 caliber pistol.  Then on May 9, 2018, Special Agents of the FBI and ATF returned to the residence with a search warrant and recovered another .38 caliber pistol, .38 caliber ammunition, and assorted items related to ISIS. During their investigation, the FBI had determined that Messer had posted a message in an online forum that he was interested in joining ISIS and volunteering to be a suicide bomber.

Federal law prohibits Messer from possessing firearms based upon his prior state and federal convictions running from 1986 to 2018.  Messer’s prior convictions include grand larceny, burglary, forgery, and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  It was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is South Carolina’s implementation of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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 Max Cauthen of the Greenville office prosecuted the case.




Lance Crick (864) 282-2105

Updated April 10, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods