SAVANNAH, GA: One man has been sentenced in the Southern District of Georgia to federal prison and others have admitted guilt in U.S. District Court on separate charges involving drugs and firearms.
Joseph Brandon Melton, 30, of Waycross, was sentenced to 71 months in 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 Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Melton to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Joseph Melton’s extensive criminal record and participation in a violent gang makes it abundantly clear that he is a danger to the community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “In coordination with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to bring to justice those who threaten the safety of our citizens.”
Melton, a member of the Ghost Face Gangsters criminal street gang, admitted to illegally possessing a semi-automatic pistol when he was charged Jan. 23, 2020, by deputies from the Ware County Sheriff’s Office. Melton was on probation for a prior state felony conviction at the time of his arrest.
Other defendants await sentencing after pleading guilty to felony charges in U.S. District Court:
- Gary Hamiter Joye Jr., 36, of Augusta, pled guilty to Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. A Fort Gordon Military Police officer found Joye Sept. 9, 2020, asleep in his car, which was illegally parked on the lawn of the post laundry service. In a subsequent search of Joye’s vehicle, investigators found a quantity of methamphetamine, along with drug sales paraphernalia and $3,000 in cash.
- Jonah Robert Schafner, 33, of Grovetown – sentenced March 9 to 108 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon – faces an additional five years in prison after pleading guilty to Escape from Custody. After his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Augusta, Schafner escaped from the Jefferson County Jail while he was awaiting transfer to federal prison. He was taken into custody four days later in Columbia County.
- Letrail Jerome West, 42, of Augusta, pled guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. West admitted illegally possessing drugs and an SKS-style rifle when arrested Oct. 30, 2019, by Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies
- Newman Everette Tryon, 38, of Savannah, pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Tryon admitted illegally possessing a revolver when he was arrested Oct. 30, 2019, by Chatham County Police.
- Jamerson Brandon Turner, 28, of Augusta, pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Turner admitted illegally possessing a pistol when questioned May 15, 2020, by Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies.
- Tron Smith, 34, of Savannah, pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Smith admitted to illegally possessing a pistol when arrested by Savannah Police officers June 17, 2019.
- Chance Derrell Christian, 32, of Kingstree, S.C., pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Christian admitted illegally possessing a loaded revolver when arrested May 11, 2020 on Interstate 20 in Columbia County after a traffic stop and subsequent search of his vehicle by the Georgia State Patrol.
- Delvon Brown, 35, of Savannah, pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Brown – who has previous convictions on state felonies, including illegal firearms possession – admitted to illegal possession of a semi-automatic pistol during a traffic stop Sept. 5, 2019, by Savannah Police officers.
- Zachary Brent Sadler, 27, of Augusta, pled guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Sadler admitted pawning a handgun in October 2019, and he later was charged by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when attempted to repurchase the gun and was denied during a background check.
- Kijordan Markel Ceaser, 22, of Thomson, Ga., pled guilty to Illegal Receipt of a Firearm by a Person Under Indictment. Ceaser, who was on parole after a conviction on state charges, admitted illegally possessing a pistol when agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Community Supervision searched his residence Sept. 17, 2020.
“These cases are the product of a concerted collaborative effort on the part of ATF and its local partners to target, investigate, and eliminate the perpetrators of violent crime,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “These prosecutions will ensure the incarceration of dangerous criminals and contribute to the restoration of order and peace.”
The cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the U.S. Marshals Service, along with state and local agencies including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, the Georgia State Patrol, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the Ware County Sheriff’s Office, the Savannah Police Department, and the Chatham County Police Department. The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer J. Kirkland, Henry W. Syms Jr., Noah J. Abrams, Alejandro V. Pascual IV, Steven H. Lee and John P. Harper III, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Edwin Caban Jr.