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Press Release

Lexington Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison on Firearm and Methamphetamine Charges

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

Columbia, South Carolina – United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., announced today that John Francis Donohue, 40, of Lexington, was sentenced to ten years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and to distribution of and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Evidence presented in court established that on June 5, 2018, deputies with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, along with agents from South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, went to a Lexington County residence to locate Donohue, who had outstanding warrants. During Donohue’s arrest, deputies noticed gun holsters on the floor of his bedroom and ultimately recovered three firearms and assorted ammunition belonging to Donohue, who admitted to possessing them while on state probation.  

Further evidence presented in court established that Donohue was also being investigated for drug activities by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and deputies from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. On January 22, 2019, Donohue, while armed with a firearm, distributed methamphetamine to an undercover agent and confidential informant. This was one of many documented occasions where Donohue was armed during his drug-dealing activities. Additionally, during several of the transactions, Donohue sold firearms to the undercover agent and confidential informant.

Information presented to the court showed that Donohue was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon prior convictions for criminal domestic violence and drug-related crimes. Specifically, Donohue was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in Lexington County in April 2013 and sentenced to seven and a half years suspended upon two years of probation. One month after being placed on probation, Donohue was arrested and later convicted of shoplifting. Five months after that, while still on state probation, Donohue was arrested for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in Lexington County, and was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 15 years suspended upon two days’ time served and five years of probation. Less than one year later, Donohue was again arrested in Lexington County for distribution of methamphetamine and was convicted in April 2016 and sentenced to 25 years suspended upon five years of probation. Donohue was on that probation when deputies arrested him on the outstanding warrants and found him in possession of three firearms and assorted ammunition in June 2018.

United States District Judge Mary G. Lewis sentenced Donohue to 120 months in federal prison, to be followed by a six-year term of court-ordered supervision.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was investigated by the ATF and Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.  This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local 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. Special Assistant United States Attorney Casey Rankin Smith of the 11th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office and Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.


The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at


Derek A. Shoemake (843) 813-0982

Updated August 20, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods