Rock Hill Man Pleads to Federal Firearm and Drug Charges
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that Zadgery Collins McNeil, age 32, of Rock Hill, plead guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e) and Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(D), and 851. Chief United States District Judge Terry L. Wooten, of Columbia, accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Evidence presented in court established that at approximately 1:25 pm on December 6, 2016, Rock Hill Police Department received numerous 911 calls regarding a shooting on Jones Avenue. One of the callers identified McNeil as being one of the individuals involved and provided a description of McNeil’s vehicle, as well as the other vehicle involved. An officer encountered McNeil’s vehicle and observed him fire a handgun before speeding away. A chase ensued, which resulted in McNeil bailing from his vehicle, which crashed into a porch of a residence. A foot chase ensued during which McNeil threw down the handgun. McNeil ran into a nearby home and the residents alerted law enforcement. McNeil was placed under arrest a short time later and officers recovered $550 and the discarded handgun. A search of McNeil’s vehicle revealed approximately 348 grams of marijuana and a spent shell casing among other items linked to McNeil.
McNeil is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior separate South Carolina state convictions for possession of crack cocaine (2006), assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (2007), possession with intent to distribute marijuana (2012), possession with intent to distribute marijuana near a park (2014), and distribution of marijuana 2nd offense (2014). At the time of the instant offense, McNeil was on state probation for a North Carolina conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon (2014).
On the firearm charge, McNeil faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release on the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge. However, if he is deemed an armed career criminal in light of his prior convictions, he would face a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years with a maximum of life, a fine of $250,000, and 5 years of supervised release on the firearm charge. McNeil faces a maximum of 10 years, a fine of $4,000,000 and 4 years of supervised release on the marijuana charge.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Safe Streets Task Force and the Rock Hill Police Department and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.