Multiple defendants prosecuted on federal firearms charges
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Prosecutions target illegal gun possession
SAVANNAH, GA: Four people have been indicted in the Southern District of Georgia on felony charges including illegal firearms possession, while additional defendants have been sentenced to federal prison or await further proceedings after pleading guilty to federal gun charges.
The cases are prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods in collaboration with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI, to reduce violent crime with measures that include targeting convicted felons who illegally possess guns.
“Guns in the hands of convicted felons present a danger to the community,” said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “With our law enforcement partners, we continue to identify and prosecute individuals who violate firearms laws.”
In the past four years, more than 800 defendants have been prosecuted in the Southern District of Georgia for firearms offenses – most often for possessing a firearm after conviction for a previous felony. That charge carries a statutory penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system.
Those indicted during the September term of the U.S. District Court Grand Jury include:
- Wilbur Zaccaeus Hightower, 43, of Blackshear, Ga., charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Machine Gun, referring to a pistol with an illegal “Glock switch”;
- Hunter W. Taylor, 25, of Hephzibah, Ga., charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, referring to a short barrel rifle;
- Joshua Bowser, 28, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon; and,
- Zytavious Beck, 26, of Dublin, Ga., charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
Defendants recently adjudicated on federal firearms charges include:
- Melvin Jamarcus Lanier, 42, of Statesboro, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and fined $1,500 after pleading guilty to Possession of a Stolen Firearm. Statesboro police officers arrested Lanier in January 2021 during a traffic stop after finding a pistol in his vehicle.
- Demmerio Swint, 29, of Augusta, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Savannah police officers found a pistol in Swint’s pocket and another in his vehicle after a November 2021 traffic stop.
- Nygeria Tasheema Brown, 32, of Savannah, was sentenced to three years’ probation and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to False Statement During the Purchase of a Firearm. Brown assisted Javonte Deshawn Washington, 30, of Savannah, in buying a pistol despite knowing he was a convicted felon. Garden City police officers found Washington in possession of the gun later that month when responding to a report of a man pointing a gun at motorists outside an apartment complex. Washington is serving a 44-month term in federal prison after pleading guilty to Straw Purchase of a Firearm.
- Tekayo Spencer, 39, of Savannah, was sentenced to 32 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Savannah police officers arrested Spencer in June 2022 during an investigation into a man brandishing a firearm during a domestic dispute.
- Caleb Earl Riggs, 38, of Claxton, Ga., was sentenced to 24 months in prison and fined $1,500 after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. One of 32 defendants indicted in October 2022 as part of a drug trafficking conspiracy in Operation Carpet Ride, Riggs was found in possession of a pistol during a traffic stop by Evans County sheriff’s deputies and the Georgia State Patrol.
- Milton Parker III, 37, of Savannah, was sentenced to 51 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Savannah police officers arrested Parker in September 2022 while investigating reports of shots being fired in a Savannah neighborhood, and finding Parker with a pistol in his waistband.
- Jonathan Duncan, 38, of Savannah, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Savannah police officers found a pistol in Duncan’s vehicle during a November 2022 traffic stop.
- Tori Davis, 33, of Savannah, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Possession with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone and Fentanyl. Garden City police officers found drugs and a pistol in Davis’ vehicle during a traffic stop. When Davis was federally indicted in February 2023, investigators found multiple guns and extended magazines in his residence during his arrest.
- Alvin York, 47, of Swainsboro, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Swainsboro police officers found multiple firearms in York’s vehicle during a December 2021 traffic stop.
- Michael Floyd, 30, of Savannah, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. An Oglethorpe Mall security officer contacted the Savannah Police Department after observing what appeared to be a gun inside Floyd’s clothing, and officers later determined Floyd was prohibited as a convicted felon from carrying a gun.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Savannah Police Department, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Under federal law, it is illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she falls into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon; illegal alien; or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to purchase – firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, also is a federal offense.
For more information from the ATF on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see: https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/atfw-form-4473
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer; 912-652-4422
Updated September 25, 2023
Project Safe Neighborhoods