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Press Release

Project Guardian Update: Two Men Sentenced in Federal Court

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Two Project Guardian defendants were sentenced this week in federal court, according to United States Attorney Mike Stuart.

Ronald Hambleton, 29, of Charleston, was sentenced to 68 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He also will serve three years on supervised release. On July 18, 2019, South Charleston police stopped a speeding car in which Hambleton was a passenger. During the stop, Hambleton was found to be in possession of, with intent to distribute, nearly half an ounce of cocaine, as well as some marijuana and digital scales. Police also recovered a loaded Ruger LCP .380 caliber firearm in the car’s center console. Hambleton claimed ownership of the drugs, drug paraphernalia and loaded firearm on scene. The South Charleston Police Department conducted the investigation. Former Assistant United States Attorney Stefan Hasselblad and Assistant United States Attorney Negar M. Kordestani handled the prosecution.

James Owen Adkins, 40, of Lincoln County, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He also was ordered to complete two years of supervised release. A federal jury sitting in Charleston convicted Adkins on February 5, 2020, of illegally possessing a Springfield XD 9mm pistol in St. Albans while being a convicted felon. The jury found that on June 4, 2019, Adkins removed a Springfield XD 9mm pistol from a truck that drove away from St. Albans police officers during an attempted a traffic stop. Adkins took the pistol from the truck, climbed out and ran off through a residential neighborhood as police pursued him on foot with a K-9. Prior to being apprehended by police, Adkins discarded the firearm under a shrub next to a residence where young children resided. Police officers recovered the firearm at the scene. Adkins admitted in an interview with officers that he was a felon, that he ran from police with the firearm, and that he discarded it. The St. Albans Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin F. Scott and Steven I. Loew handled the prosecution and tried the case before the federal jury.

United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin imposed the sentences. 

The cases were prosecuted as 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 these cases with support from the Project Guardian partners noted 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. 2:19-CR-00242 (Hambleton) and Case No. 2:19-CR-00226 (Adkins).


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Updated July 15, 2020

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