Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
“Aiken Safe Communities”: Two Men Enter Guilty Pleas on Federal Gun Charges
COLUMBIA, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney William N. Nettles, stated today that, earlier this week, two Aiken men, Jesse James Quarles, 33, and Kenneth Islar, 27, each entered guilty pleas in federal court in Columbia to the charge of felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).
Quarles and Islar were indicted in July by a federal grand jury in separate indictments. United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs of Columbia accepted the pleas and will impose sentence after she has reviewed pre-sentence reports that will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. Quarles and Islar previously waived their right to a detention hearing, and remain in custody.
Mr. Nettles stated the penalty for felon in possession is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years, plus a special assessment of $100. However, should either Quarles or Islar be classified based on prior criminal history as an Armed Career Criminal, they would be subject to enhanced penalties--a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of life in prison, a fine of $250,000, a five-year term of supervised release, and a special assessment fee of $100. Launched in early 2013, the Aiken Safe Communities Initiative is a unified, proactive community approach to engage, educate, and encourage recurring offenders to change their behavior and make healthy life choices. The initiative also bands together local, state, and federal law enforcement to expedite the investigation and prosecution of individuals who reoffend in lieu of accepting opportunities and assistance offered by the community during public notification meetings held at Aiken City Hall several times a year.
From 2012-2013, the city of Aiken experienced an 86% reduction in murders. Earlier this year, the South Carolina Community Development Association presented the city of Aiken with its 2014 Award of Excellence, recognizing community development efforts that have significantly improved the quality of life in the community.
Both cases were investigated by the Aiken Department of Public Safety, the 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office (Aiken, Bamberg, and Barnwell counties), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). These prosecutions as well as the United States Attorney’s Office ongoing commitment to the Aiken Safe Communities Initiative are part of Operation CeaseFire. CeaseFire is a joint local, state, and federal initiative which seeks to prosecute aggressive individuals who unlawfully use, possess, or transfer firearms. Both cases are assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Lance Crick of the Greenville office.