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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 16, 2016

Winnfield men plead guilty to firearms charges

MONROE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that two Winnfield men pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing stolen firearms.

Ashton L. Howard, 33, and Aaron Thomas, 26, both of Winnfield, La., pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a stolen firearm in a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. Hayes. Thomas also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. Their pleas will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Robert G. James. According to the guilty pleas, Howard and Thomas received and possessed 14 firearms, ammunition and other items from a Winnfield firearm seller on March 22, 2015. Howard drove four juveniles to a store where they loaded eight rifles, five shotguns, a revolver, ammunition, firearms parts, knives and other items into Howard’s van. Thomas later helped them unload the stolen items and store them under his house and in various locations. They both were aware the firearms were stolen.

Each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison, one to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date of September 12, 2016 was set.

This investigation and prosecution is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a Department of Justice initiative to promote firearm safety and to reduce firearm crimes by preventing the possession and use of firearms by dangerous and persistent felons and others not authorized to possess a firearm.

The ATF and the Winnfield Police Department conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert W. Gillespie Jr. is prosecuting the case.

Updated June 17, 2016