(USDOJ.Today) The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that on September 15, 2020, the following individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury for drug and firearms offenses:
• James Felix, a.k.a. “Mike,” 37, of Orlando, Florida
• Johnny Ford, a.k.a. “Sonny,” 33, of Orlando, Florida
• Brandon Sanders, a.k.a. “Baby Boy,” 19, of Orlando, Florida
• Lesine Woodson, a.k.a. “Coco” and “Lexi,” 33, of Orlando, Florida
The Third Superseding Indictment charges all four defendants with conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and conspiracy to commit a firearm offense. Felix and Ford are additionally charged with being felons in possession of a firearm and using, carrying and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a controlled substance offense.
According to Court records, on April 16, 2019, in Burlington’s Old North End, Benzel Hampton was shot and killed. Hampton had previously partnered with Lesine Woodson to distribute cocaine base in and around Burlington, Vermont. In January 2019, Hampton was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase. Woodson – a passenger in the car – had more than $8,600 of United States currency hidden under her clothing. This event led to a feud between Hampton and Woodson.
Woodson’s dispute with Hampton escalated and she brought James Felix and Johnny Ford to Vermont. On April 16, 2019, after learning of a text message sent by Hampton, Woodson drove Felix, Ford and Sanders to confront Hampton at 235 North Willard Street in Burlington. A gun battle ensued and Hampton was shot at least six times with two separate firearms, leading to his death. The indictment alleges that Felix and Ford discharged these firearms. After the shooting Ford arranged for the disposal of the firearms. These firearms were later recovered by law enforcement in a wooded area in South Burlington. The cause of Hampton’s death was later determined to be gunshot wounds to his torso and head.
Felix and Woodson were arrested on April 16, 2019 in Burlington, and Ford and Sanders were arrested in Enfield, Connecticut, where police discovered approximately $17,000 and over 100 grams of cocaine base in their motel room.
The charges are merely accusations and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Felix and Ford face up to life imprisonment and an overall mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, while Woodson and Sanders face up to 40 years of imprisonment and a mandatory minimum of 5 years. Each defendant’s ultimate sentence will be advised by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Previously, a Second Superseding Indictment additionally charged Angelina Pearson-Fitzpatrick, 56, of Burlington, and Devlin Koski, 31, of South Hero with participation in the conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base. The Second Superseding Indictment further charged Pearson-Fitzpatrick with participation in the conspiracy to commit a firearm offense. On July 15, 2020, Pearson-Fitzpatrick pleaded guilty to the charges in the Second Superseding Indictment. On August 19, 2020, Koski also pleaded guilty to the charge in the Second Superseding Indictment. Both Pearson-Fitzpatrick and Koski await sentencing.
Assistant United States Attorneys Nathanael T. Burris and Paul J. Van de Graaf are handling the case for the government. Felix is represented by Attorney David Sleigh; Ford is represented by Attorney Robert Katims; Sanders is represented by Attorney Frank Twarog; Woodson is represented by Attorney Peter Langrock; Pearson-Fitzpatrick is represented by Attorney John-Claude Charbonneau; and Koski is represented by Attorney Paul Volk.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting firearm use and possession crimes; prioritizes prosecuting persons who make false statements when attempting to obtain firearms; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concerning persons who attempt to obtain firearms illegally; coordinates responses to persons prevented from obtaining firearms for mental health reasons; and ensures the use of modern intelligence tools and technology to focus on the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.
For more information, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.