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Press Release

Lancaster County Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of a Firearm

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

Contact Person: William Witherspoon (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Reco Valarie Cauthen, age 42, of Lancaster County, South Carolina has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina to possession of a firearm by convicted felon, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).  United States District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department received a call for an ongoing burglary.  The caller gave the police a description of the burglars.  The caller also gave the description of the vehicle they were driving as a white pickup truck with a dealer’s tag.  As officers arrived, the owner of the car dealership arrived on the scene and gave the officers the name of the person whom he had allowed to test drive that vehicle earlier that morning.  He told the officers that the person had not returned the vehicle nor returned telephone calls. 

As the officers searched the area for the vehicle, they saw a black Lexus driven by Reco Cauthen and 3 other persons in the car.  Officers were familiar with these individuals and knew they had been mentioned as receivers of stolen items.  When the officers began to follow the car, the rear driver’s side door opened and Martiquos Javon McIlwain jumped out of the car with a book bag and began to run.  The officers gave chase on foot.   

As some officers chased McIlwain on foot, other officers located the black Lexus nearby.  Cauthen was driving the car.  The officers knew that Cauthen did not have a driver’s license and stopped the car.   They found Cauthen and two (2) other persons in the car.  Cauthen was asked for his driver’s license and admitted that he did not have one.  He was arrested.   The car was searched and the officers found a Ruger model P95, 9mm pistol in a closed compartment under the driver’s seat.  While this was ongoing, another officer reported that he had seen Cauthen’s car and the white truck used in the burglary at Cauthen’s house earlier in the day.  The white truck had been found abandoned near Cauthen’s home.  Based upon all of this information, the officers obtained a search warrant for Cauthen’s home.  In the house, they found an AMT Government model .45 caliber pistol located in a vent in a bathroom, 34 rounds of 9mm ammunition, six 30 round magazines for an AK-47 type rifle, a Jimenez .380 caliber pistol box and one 7.62x39 caliber round of ammunition. Cauthen is prohibited from possessing a firearm based upon a prior felony conviction.

Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty Cauthen could receive is life imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the State Law Enforcement Division, and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Department.  Assistant United States Attorney William K. Witherspoon of the Columbia is prosecuting the case.


Updated May 3, 2016