Eleven 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.
“Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing guns, and with our law enforcement partners we are committed to keeping our communities safe from violent crime by holding accountable those who would violate the law,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
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.
Additional defendants recently have been adjudicated on federal charges that include illegal firearms possession:
- Phillip Allen Loughry, 41, of Baxley, Ga., was sentenced to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Stolen Firearm. Appling County Sheriff’s deputies charged Loughry after he ran from a December 2020 traffic stop and dropped a pistol as deputies pursued and captured him. Loughry still faces prosecution for related state charges and revocation of prior probationary status in state court.
- Lamar Harris, a/k/a “Foolie,” 21, of Savannah, was sentenced to 62 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 Kilos or More of Marijuana, and Conspiracy to Use, Possess, or Carry Firearms. Harris was one of 29 defendants indicted in December 2020 as part of Operation Deadlier Catch, an investigation into a gang-related drug trafficking network in the greater Savannah area.
- Vesenta Cornelius Watson, 46, of Augusta, was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm with an Obliterated Serial Number. Watson sped away from an attempted Richmond County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop in November 2021 and threw a duffel bag from the window of his vehicle. After taking Watson into custody, deputies retrieved the bag and found a pistol and illegal drugs inside.
- De’Montre Murray, 22, of Columbia, S.C., was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. A four-time convicted felon, Murray was charged after a June 21 chase by Glynn County Sheriff’s deputies and the Georgia State Patrol on Interstate 95 for 57 miles at speeds up to 100 mph. A pistol was discovered in the stolen vehicle Murray was driving.
- Antoine Ladson, 33, of Brunswick, was sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Brunswick Police officers arrested Ladson in January 2021 after finding him in possession of large amounts of drugs, cash and a pistol while loitering near a liquor store.
- Akil Shawron Brown, 21, of Savannah, was sentenced to 16 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to Receipt of a Firearm by a Person Under Indictment. Savannah Police officers charged Brown, who was out on bond pending adjudication of felony charges on the state level, after learning he was in possession of a pistol while being treated at a Savannah hospital. Brown is a reputed member of Savannah’s 1100 criminal street gang.
- 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.
- Rashejon B. Curry, 28, of Pooler, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Chatham County Police officers arrested Curry following a report of an assault at a motel room, later finding him carrying a loaded pistol. Curry has a violent criminal history including convictions for robbery and gun possession.
- Michael Brandon Sharpe, 44, of Pembroke, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Sharpe is one of 35 defendants indicted as part of Operation Stranded Bandit, which targeted gang-affiliated drug traffickers in the Southern District. Of those defendants, 27have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 292 months after pleading guilty; three await sentencing after entering guilty pleas; two defendants await trial; and the case against one defendant was referred to state court.
- Terry Kennard Isaacs, 37, of Beaufort, S.C., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Stolen Firearm. Shortly after midnight on June 17, 2021, Pooler Police officers found Isaacs asleep inside a customer’s vehicle parked at a repair business, and arrested him after finding a pistol and drugs in a small bag in his possession. Isaacs has multiple prior felony convictions involving firearms and violence.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Savannah Police Department, and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office Assistant U.S. Attorneys, including E. Gregory Gilluly Jr., Jeremiah L. Johnson, Henry W. Syms Jr., Jennifer A. Stanley, Tara M. Lyons, Marcela C. Mateo, and John P. Harper III, with firearms forfeitures coordinated through the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office Asset Recovery Unit.