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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 22, 2019

Four Felons Appeared in Court This Week in Connection with Federal Gun Crime Offenses

All cases prosecuted under the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative

SHREVEPORT, LAKE CHARLES, MONROE, La. United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced the resolution of several cases this week, all of which are separately noted, that were brought pursuant to the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  Project Safe Neighborhoods 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.

Lake Charles Man Sentenced for Illegally Possessing a Stolen Firearm

LAKE CHARLES, La. United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that Jeremy Rankins, 28, of Lake Charles, was sentenced November 19, 2019, by U.S. District Judge James D. Cain Jr., to 80 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for possession of a stolen firearm. Rankins pleaded guilty on August 15, 2019.

According to court documents, on May 19, 2018, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint of an attempted armed robbery with a firearm and an attempted carjacking at a Lake Charles casino.  Upon arrival, officers came in contact with Rankins, who had already been detained by the casino’s security officers.  Deputies also spoke with the 61-year-old victim, who stated that she was in her car at around 4 a.m. when Rankins sat in the passenger seat brandishing a firearm and demanding money.  She denied having any money, at which point he demanded the keys to her car.  The hotel security later detained Rankins, and while he was being questioned, a witness discovered the loaded 9 mm Ruger handgun he used on the ground under a truck tire.  The investigation revealed that the handgun was stolen on May 17, 2018, from a vehicle parked in the casino’s parking garage.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation, with assistance from the casino security. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Vermaelen prosecuted the case.

Lake Charles Man Sent to Prison for Lying on Federal Firearms Form

Defendant lied about his criminal background when he tried to purchase a firearm at a Pawn Shop

LAKE CHARLES, La. United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that Darrien Lamont Rogers, 24, of Lake Charles, was sentenced on November 19, 2019, by U.S. District Judge James D. Cain Jr., to six months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for lying on a firearm application at a Lake Charles pawn shop. Rogers pleaded guilty on August 15, 2019. 

On March 4, 2019, Rogers attempted to purchase a Taurus, Model PT 111, 9 mm semi-automatic pistol at a pawn shop in Lake Charles. He lied on an ATF Form 4473 by indicating that he had no felony convictions. Rogers pleaded guilty to one count of simple burglary on September 27, 2018, in the 14th Judicial District Court in Calcasieu Parish. Because of this felony conviction, Rogers is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Vermaelen is prosecuted the case.

Shreveport Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Illegally Possessing a Firearm

SHREVEPORT, La. United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that Christopher John Williams, 30, of Shreveport, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter on November 19, 2019, to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

On January 31, 2019, Williams was arrested on a state offense and held in custody at Caddo Correctional Center. While he was in custody, he called two friends and asked them to get rid of a firearm that was located at his residence. Following the calls, agents made contact with an individual Williams shared his residence with and secured a Springfield XDS .45 caliber pistol. At the guilty plea, Williams admitted that the pistol belonged to him and to being a convicted felon. As a convicted felon, he knew it was illegal for him to possess a firearm or ammunition.

Williams has prior felony convictions in Caddo Parish for illegal use of a weapon (2007), second degree battery (2009), accessory after the fact – robbery (2014), domestic abuse battery (2015), and public intimidation (2017).   

Christopher Williams will be sentenced by Judge Walter on March 24, 2020, and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI Northwest Louisiana Violent Crimes Task Force, and the Shreveport Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tennille M. Gilreath is prosecuting the case.

Multiple-Time Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Illegally Possessing Seven Firearms That He Stole From Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop

MONROE, La. United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that Brandon Keith Harris, 32, of Bastrop, Louisiana, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty on November 20, 2019, to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

On the evening of July 14, 2018, Harris broke into Simmons’ Sporting Goods in Bastrop, Louisiana and stole seven guns. Federal law prohibits Harris from ever possessing a firearm because of his status as a convicted felon. He had previously been convicted of multiple felonies in Morehouse Parish including: the manufacture and possession of a bomb (2005), possession of methamphetamine (2009), simple burglary, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (2014). This case is a joint federal and local investigation into the July 14, 2018 break-in and firearm theft.

Harris returns to court on March 4, 2020, where he will be sentenced by Judge Doughty, and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Bastrop Police Department, and Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Shannon is prosecuting the case.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of a firearm or ammunition. 

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Updated November 22, 2019