Owensboro, KY – A federal grand jury in Bowling Green, Kentucky, returned an indictment on May 10, 2023, charging a Morganfield, Kentucky, felon with illegal possession of a firearm and methamphetamine trafficking.
U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky, Special Agent in Charge R. Shawn Morrow of the ATF Louisville Field Division, and Sheriff Jason Thomas of the Union County Sheriff’s Office made the announcement.
According to the indictment, on August 19, 2022, James W. Harris Jr., 56, possessed with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Harris also possessed a Helwan Brigadier, nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol. Harris was prohibited from possessing a firearm because he had previously been convicted of the following felony offenses. On August 6, 2004, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Harris was convicted of possessing with intent to distribute, within 1000 feet of public housing, 500 grams to 2 kilograms of powder cocaine, and he was convicted of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and knowingly possessing a firearm.
Harris made his initial appearance last week before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case is being investigated by the ATF Bowling Green Field Office and the Union County Sheriff’s office with assistance from the FBI Owensboro Resident Agency, the Kentucky State Police, the Daviess County/Owensboro Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (AHIDTA) Drug Task Force, and the Henderson Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Yurchisin II, of the U.S. Attorney’s Bowling Green Branch Office, is prosecuting this case.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.