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Press Release

Federal Jury Finds Beckley Man Guilty of Gun Crime

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A federal jury returned a guilty verdict in the trial of a Beckley man for being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. John Henry Swain, 44, was convicted following a one-day jury trial.

“I am a firm supporter of the Second Amendment,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.   “But Swain is prohibited from possessing firearms because of his previous felony conviction.   Enforcing federal gun laws is critically important to public safety because it keeps guns out of the wrong hands.  I want to thank ATF and my Assistant United States Attorneys, Ryan Saunders and Steve Loew, for their work in this case.” 

Witnesses for the United States testified that on September 20, 2018, Swain, along with two other individuals, was being investigated for public intoxication and open container in downtown Beckley. Swain was the only one who was non-compliant. He continuously put his hands in his pocket and waistband area. Swain then fled on foot and maneuvered his hands towards his waist during the foot pursuit. He was apprehended and a canine tracked a 9mm Taurus pistol along the path of flight. After Swain’s arrest, law enforcement read him his Miranda rights and in a recorded interview, Swain admitted to possessing the firearm and that he wanted to get a clip and shoot it to see what it sounded like. Swain was prohibited from possessing any firearm under federal law because of a 2008 federal conviction in the Southern District of West Virginia for being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

Swain faces up to 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in August 22, 2019.  Swain will remain in custody pending his sentencing.

The Beckley Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan A. Saunders and Steven I. Loew are in charge of the prosecution and tried the case before a federal jury. United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the trial.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is 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.


SDWVNews and USAttyStuart


Updated May 2, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods