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Press Release

Project Guardian: Morgantown Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Gun Crimes

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Morgantown man pled guilty today to federal gun crimes, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Robert William Moats, 34, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm with a removed serial number.

Moats admitted that while in Charleston on March 21, 2018, he was in possession of a Phoenix Arms, Raven, .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol that had an obliterated serial number. Moats also admitted that he knew he was a convicted felon and that he was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a 2003 felony conviction in Monongalia County Circuit Court for second degree murder.

Moats faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced on December 22, 2020.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Charleston Police Department conducted the investigation. Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Courtney Cremeans is handling the prosecution.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. The United States Attorney’s Office has prosecuted this case with support from the Project Guardian partners listed above. For more information about Project Guardian, please see:            

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:20-cr-00008.


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Updated September 23, 2020

Project Guardian
Firearms Offenses