West Columbia Man Pleads to Federal Firearm and Drug Charges
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that Jwain Dennis Francis, a/k/a “Love,” age 28, of West Columbia, plead guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and to possession with intent to crack cocaine and cocaine, 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) and 841(b)(1)(C). 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 in late 2016, the West Columbia Police Department received information that an individual nicknamed “Love” was selling crack cocaine in the area of Gentle Pine Apartments. A confidential informant was able to purchase crack cocaine from “Love” on two separate occasions in November 2016, and law enforcement determined through photo line-ups that “Love” was Francis. On December 1, 2016, officers arrested Francis on state drug charges and executed a search warrant at his residence. Inside the residence, officers recovered baggies of cocaine and crack cocaine, along with scales and $3,305. Officers also recovered a 9mm handgun and 9mm ammunition. Francis admitted that he bought and sold crack cocaine and cocaine.
Francis is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior separate South Carolina state convictions for strong arm robbery (2007), indecent exposure (2014), and strong arm robbery (2014).
On the firearm charge, Francis 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. Francis faces a maximum of 20 years, a fine of $1,000,000 and at least 3 years of supervised release on the drug charge.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the West Columbia 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.