Madison County Man Charged in Both Federal and State Courts for Unlawful Possession of Firearms and Possession of a Hoax Device During Civil Unrest
Jackson, TN – Justin Coffman, 29, has been federally charged with being a drug user in possession of firearms, and has been indicted in state court for the criminal offense of possession of a hoax device. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney announced the unsealing of the federal criminal complaint, and 26th Judicial District Attorney General Jody Pickens announced the state indictment by the Madison County Grand Jury today.
According to a federal complaint unsealed today, on June 1, 2020, Jackson Police Department began investigating Coffman who was posting photographs to his Facebook page and another page titled, "The Gunpowder Plot" that depicted him holding a Molotov cocktail near the Jackson City Court building. The photo also showed a Jackson Police Department transport van. Above the photo was a quote, "You will bathe in the flames born from your hatred." Coffman was also seen at two protests against police violence in the days leading up to the investigation.
Officers obtained a state search warrant for Coffman’s residence to search for the potential incendiary device, and located a glass bottle containing a liquid substance fashioned to appear like a Molotov cocktail, as well as two firearms: a Spikes Tactical model ST15 multi caliber AR type rifle, and a Sarsilmaz model SARK2P 9mm pistol in Coffman’s bedroom. Marijuana was also recovered.
As a result of further investigation by law enforcement, a federal criminal complaint was filed charging Coffman with being an unlawful user of drugs in possession of firearms, in violation of 18 USC §922(g)(3).
Coffman was also indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury and charged in state court by the 26th Judicial District Attorney General, Jody Pickens, for the Class C Felony offense of possession of a hoax device in violation of T.C.A. §39-17-1302, as well as the Class A misdemeanor offenses of possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance in violation of T.C.A. §39-17-418 and five counts of possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of T.C.A. §39-17-425.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "Prohibited persons in possession of firearms such as unlawful users of illegal narcotics are always a public safety concern, but especially so when multiple weapons are recovered during a potentially volatile situation, such as civil unrest. We take all threats against law enforcement very seriously, and I commend the outstanding investigative work of our federal and local law enforcement partners in quickly responding to remove firearms and potentially dangerous devices from this offender."
Madison County District Attorney General Jody Pickens said: "I applaud the work of law enforcement in the investigation of this matter. It stands as a great example of cooperation between state and federal law enforcement."
If convicted, Coffman faces a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for the federal firearms offense; and a sentence from 3-15 years for the state felony hoax device offense. The federal charges will be presented to a federal grand jury at a later date to consider an indictment against the defendant. There is no parole in the federal system.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Jackson Police Department investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Lawler Parham is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States. The Madison County District Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case on behalf of the State of Tennessee.
The charges and allegations contained in the federal criminal complaint and state indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.