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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 6, 2019

Lawton Man Pleads Guilty to Explosives and Gun Charges

OKLAHOMA CITY – PHILIP JAMES HEATH, 51, of Lawton, has pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of both explosives and firearms, announced Timothy J. Downing, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

On February 4, 2019, Heath was charged by complaint with possession of firearms after a felony conviction.  According to an affidavit executed by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, on the morning of January 30, 2019, officers of the Lawton Police Department responded to a 911 call regarding a domestic disturbance at an apartment.  The woman who made the call allegedly told the dispatcher Heath had pointed a gun at her and threatened her.  The complaint explained that after the responding officers detained Heath, they saw the buttstock of a rifle in plain view, sticking out from between a mattress and box springs.  It was alleged they ultimately discovered three pistols and two rifles.  Because of items discovered in the apartment, numerous FBI personnel responded immediately to assess and mitigate any threat and to ensure public safety.

On April 3, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment that alleged not only illegal possession of firearms, but also illegal possession of explosives, which under the relevant criminal statute includes detonating cord.  The indictment sought forfeiture of five firearms, 1,404 rounds of various kinds of ammunition, and two lengths of detonating cord.

Today Heath pleaded guilty to both counts.  At sentencing, which will take place in approximately ninety days, he faces a potential penalty on each count of ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.

Heath has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since early March.

This case is a result of an investigation by the Lawton Police Department, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the FBI Oklahoma City Division.  Prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon Hale and Travis D. Smith, the case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses on the most violent offenders and partners with local prevention and re-entry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Reference is made to public filings for more information.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated June 7, 2019