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Press Release

Mason County Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Federal Carjacking and Firearms Offenses

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

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Mason County man who threatened two employees of the Putnam Public Service District (PSD) with a machinegun and stole their company truck last year in Teays Valley was sentenced in federal court, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  Justin Michael Wilson, 20, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after he was previously convicted of carjacking, using, carrying, and brandishing a machinegun during and in relation to a crime of violence, unlawful possession of a machinegun, and possession of an unregistered machinegun.  Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and multiple agencies who responded to the crimes, including the Mason County Sheriff’s Department, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Hurricane Police Department, and the West Virginia State Police.   

“30 years for a 20 year old - truly tragic,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “Threatening government employees. Use of a machine gun. Risking the lives of  law enforcement. These were incredibly dangerous actions that could have resulted in loss of many lives.  We will never accept this type of violent and illegal behavior but we appreciate the human tragedy of a 20 year old serving 30 years in prison.” 

On January 11, 2018, Wilson drove a vehicle he had stolen earlier in the day in Jackson County to the Liberty Square Shopping Plaza in Teays Valley.  While in route to the shopping plaza, Wilson acquired a machinegun and engaged deputies in Kanawha County in a chase, eventually driving off-road and jumping his vehicle over railroad tracks to get away.  When he arrived at the shopping plaza, Wilson approached two employees of the Putnam Public Service District eating lunch in their company truck.  Wilson brandished the machinegun, demanded the men transfer items from the stolen vehicle to the PSD truck, and stole the truck. 

A West Virginia State Police trooper and deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department responding to calls at the shopping plaza for assistance immediately saw Wilson fleeing in the truck.  Wilson then entered Interstate 64 headed westbound and led the responding units on another high speed chase.  During the pursuit, Wilson pointed the machinegun out of the truck at the trooper, ran vehicles off the road, crossed the median at a designated emergency vehicle crossing, traveled westbound in the eastbound lanes, exited the interstate by traveling the wrong way up the entrance ramp at Hurricane, and eventually crashed the truck which was destroyed by fire.  Wilson was pulled from the burning truck by the trooper and placed under arrest. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph F. Adams and Stephanie S. Taylor handled the prosecution.  United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentence. 

This case was prosecuted as part of the 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.


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Updated September 26, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods