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Press Release

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty After Posting Snapchat Photos, Videos of Illegal Firearms, Drugs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Columbia, Mo., man who posted Snapchat photos and videos in which he illegally possessed various firearms and controlled substances pleaded guilty in federal court today to illegally possessing firearms.

Chauncey Erin Howard, 37, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah W. Hays to one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

According to today’s plea agreement, a task force officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives watched Howard’s Snapchat account in which he regularly posted photos and videos of himself in possession of firearms and controlled substances. Howard also posted announcements that he had controlled substances for sale.

In July 2020, Howard was pictured in two posts brandishing a silver Smith & Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun with a green laser and flashlight attachment. In one of those posts, Howard was in possession of approximately 24 Oxycodone pills. Howard also posted a video of himself in possession of the same handgun as well as two Taurus handguns. Another video on Howard’s Snapchat account displayed two five-gallon buckets full of prepackaged marijuana products from a marijuana dispensary, which Howard stated he was selling.

Howard posted additional videos on Snapchat in the days that followed that depicted him displaying firearms and ammunition, and a video of him firing a Taurus firearm into an improvised backstop. That video then showed Howard in possession of an AR-style rifle. Howard also posted videos in which he offered to sell marijuana, crack cocaine, and other controlled substances.

On July 22, 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Howard’s residence. Officers found the Smith & Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun with the green laser and flashlight attachment, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun, an S.C. Nova Grup S.R.L. 9mm semi-automatic handgun, marijuana, and $16,201 in cash. Officers also found THC gummies and $950 in a vehicle that Howard had been driving.

Under federal statutes, Howard is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Updated May 24, 2022

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