Memphis, TN – Ronald Johnson, 30, has pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a stolen firearm. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney announced the guilty plea today.
According to information presented in Court, on March 11, 2019, Memphis Police Department officers observed a grey BMW on Yale Road near Ramill with a missing headlight and conducted a traffic stop. Officers could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle and asked both the driver and the passenger to step out of the vehicle. Law enforcement searched Johnson, and found a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. Johnson was detained.
After searching the vehicle, officers found in the glovebox, a black Sig Sauer P938 9mm handgun loaded with one live round in the chamber and six rounds in the magazine. Further investigation revealed the weapon had been reported stolen out of West Memphis, Arkansas. The driver, Johnson’s girlfriend, advised she recently purchased the vehicle, but was out of town the previous weekend and that Johnson had been driving the vehicle.
As a result of his prior felony convictions, including aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping, Johnson is prohibited by federal law from possession of firearms or ammunition.
On September 9, 2020, Johnson pleaded guilty to knowingly possessing this gun after having previously been convicted of felony offenses. Sentencing is set before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas L. Parker on December 10, 2020, where the defendant faces up to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. There is no parole in the federal system.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, “A stolen firearm in the hands of a violent felon threatens everyone. There is a good reason that federal law prohibits and punishes such illegal gun possession, and this conviction resulting in prison with no parole will help to reduce violent crime in Memphis.”
This case was investigated by the Memphis Police Department and Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force. The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Justice Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. Project Guardian is a new DOJ initiative designed to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country by focusing on investigating, prosecuting, and preventing gun crimes.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel D. Winnig prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. SAUSA Winnig is currently assigned from the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office for the purpose of prosecuting violent crimes and firearms offenses in federal court.