One sentenced, others enter guilty pleas on federal firearms charges
All defendants have prior felony convictions
AUGUSTA, GA: One man has been sentenced to federal prison and four others await sentencing after admitting to firearms felonies in U.S. District Court.
Joseph M. Powell, 21, of Waynesboro, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen also ordered Powell to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Getting guns out of the hands of criminals is an essential part of keeping our communities safe,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “We will continue to work in collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who would illegally possess firearms.”
Powell was on felony probation for a state firearm conviction in June 2019 when he admitted selling a sawed-off 12-guage shotgun to an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Other defendants have entered guilty pleas on federal firearms charges, including:
- Joe Lewis Hills, a/k/a “Polo,” a/k/a “David Owens,” 33, of Augusta, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Marijuana, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Hills and a co-defendant, Edward Albert Brown, 28, of Augusta, who previously pled guilty to an Information charging him with Possession of a Firearm by a Person Under Indictment, were arrested July 29, 2019, after Richmond County Sheriff’s investigators searched a hotel room rented to Hills and found drugs and an AR-15-style rifle with two loaded, high-capacity magazines. Hills served a previous federal prison sentence for armed robbery.
- Kenneth Wayne Jones, 27, of Augusta, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Jones, who has a prior state felony conviction involving gun violence, admitted possessing a semi-automatic pistol when he was arrested June 9, 2020, after a car and foot chase involving Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies.
- Clifford Lee Stone Jr., 29, of Wrens, Ga., pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Stone admitted illegally possessing an assault-style rifle on April 28, 2018, when he fled from a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy, first in a car and then on foot.
The cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia G. Rhodes, Jennifer A. Stanley, and Alejandro V. Pascual IV.
Under federal law, it is illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she falls into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon; illegal alien; or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to purchase – firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, also is a federal offense.
For more information on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see: https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/atf-form-4473.