(USDOJ.Today) United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Rapid City, South Dakota, man was charged in federal district court with Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person and Threats Against the President.
Lucian Celestine, age 29, was indicted on August 20, 2020, and September 17, 2020. Celestine appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on September 11, 2020, and pleaded not guilty to the firearms charge. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, and a $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The charges relate to Celestine, a person prohibited from possessing firearms, acquiring and possessing a Browning bolt-action rifle, scope, and ammunition in late June of 2020 at Rapid City. Celestine later threatened to shoot the President of the United States by climbing Mount Rushmore and shooting the President from the top of the memorial during the Independence Day celebration. The charges are merely accusations and Celestine is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its 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 local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’ssignature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The investigation is being conducted by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, the Rapid City Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the United States Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kelderman is prosecuting the case.
Celestine was detained pending trial. A trial date has been set for November 17, 2020.