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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Two felons plead guilty to federal gun crimes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Two men pleaded guilty today to federal gun charges, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Donnie Ray Evans, 33, of Williamson, entered his guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm. In a separate prosecution, Brandon Cantrell, 32, of Charleston, also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

U.S. Attorney Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police, the Kentucky State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the Evans case. He also commended the Charleston Police Department and the ATF for the investigation of Cantrell.

“These felons chose to ignore the law, and they are facing substantial prison sentences for their crimes. Make no mistake, keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals is a top priority of my office,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “I strongly support the Second Amendment, but those who break our gun laws will pay a heavy price. We will keep working with our law enforcement partners to get the message out – if you possess guns illegally, you will end up behind bars.”

On February 17, 2016, a deputy with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department was following up on a suspicious person complaint near Kermit in Mingo County. The deputy found Evans in a stolen 2004 Chevy Tracker and arrested him. Evans admitted that at the time of his arrest, he possessed a Springfield XDS, .45 caliber pistol that had been stolen from the same place as the Chevy Tracker. Evans was prohibited from possessing any firearm under federal law because of a 2009 conviction in Cabell County Circuit Court for assault during the commission of a felony.

In a separate prosecution, Cantrell admitted that on April 20, 2017, he possessed a Hi-Point, model C-9, 9mm pistol at a residence on Charleston’s West Side. Cantrell was prohibited from possessing any firearm under federal law because of a 2008 felony conviction in Kanawha County Circuit Court for breaking and entering.

Evans and Cantrell each face up to 10 years in federal prison. Evans is scheduled to be sentenced on May 10, 2018. Cantrell is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9, 2018.

Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Boggess is in charge of the Evans prosecution. Assistant United States Attorney Matt Davis is responsible for the Cantrell prosecution. United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., presided over the plea hearings.

These cases were brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in the United States by networking with existing local programs targeting gun crime.

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated February 6, 2018