According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice, 11 defendants are among those facing federal charges including illegal possession of firearms after separate indictments by a grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia, while recent actions in U.S. District Court include guilty pleas and criminal sentences related to illegal gun possession.
The indicted cases are being investigated as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI, to reduce violent crime with measures that include targeting convicted felons who illegally carry guns.
In the past four years, more than 760 defendants have been federally charged in the Southern District of Georgia for illegal firearms offenses – most often for possessing a firearm after conviction for a previous felony.
Defendants named in federal indictments from the August 2022 term of the U.S. District Court grand jury include:
· Omar Lockhart, 34, of Savannah, charged with Bank Robbery for the March 7 robbery of the Synovus Bank on Paulsen Street in Savannah. Lockhart also is charged with Using, Carrying, or Possessing a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of a Stolen Firearm.
· Darnell Dwight Brown, 30, and Corii Arkheem Bussey, 31, both of Augusta, charged with Assaulting, Resisting or Impeding Certain Officers or Employees, and Using, Carrying or Possessing a Firearm During and In Relation to a Crime of Violence. The case involves a Dec. 9, 2021, shootout in which a U.S. Postal Service vehicle was struck by multiple bullets. The mail carrier who was inside the vehicle was not injured.
· Kerry Akeem Milledge, 37, of Savannah, and Antron Ozier Charles, 19, of Pooler, Ga., charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, and Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. Milledge also is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
· Zachary Smith, 25, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
· Marshall Lee Cushman, 39, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
· Christopher Fitzgerald Jones, 35, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
· Christopher David Baskett, 46, if Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and,
· Rondell Smith, a/k/a “Rondal Smith,” 27, of Hephzibah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Among the additional defendants recently adjudicated on federal charges that included illegal firearms possession was one person from Hinesville:
· Davonta Johnson, 31, of Hinesville, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm, and Possession of Firearms by a Prohibited Person, relating to a prior conviction for domestic violence. Johnson admitted that he lied in May 2020 about his prior conviction while purchasing a pistol at a Bullock County pawn shop. Hinesville Police arrested Johnson two months later during a traffic stop and found two pistols in his vehicle.
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 from the ATF on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see: https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/atf-form-4473.