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Press Release

Richland County Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing a Firearm

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

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Raphiel Coleman, 35, of Columbia, was sentenced to over four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Evidence presented to the court showed that Richland County deputies were called to a store on Broad River Road concerning a man with a gun.  When they arrived, the deputies saw Coleman wearing the same clothing as described by the 911 caller.  The deputies ordered him to the ground, but he fled behind the store.  One deputy gave chase on foot and the other followed in the police car.  Eventually, they caught Coleman and during a search of him, they found one .357 caliber round of ammunition in his pocket.  With the help of a police dog, they retraced their steps and found a .357 caliber pistol on the ground in a bush.  Coleman subsequently admitted possessing the gun.  The police also found approximately 2 grams of marijuana in Coleman’s pocket.

Federal law prohibits Coleman from possessing a firearm and ammunition based upon prior convictions for burglary, possession of 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.

United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon sentenced Coleman to 51 months (4 years and 3 months) in prison, to be followed by a 3-year term of court-ordered supervision.  There is no parole in the federal system.  

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 and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney William K. Witherspoon is prosecuting the case.


CONTACT PERSON: Brook Andrews, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (803) 929-3000

Updated July 13, 2023

Firearms Offenses