For Immediate Release
Career Criminal From Philadelphia Sentenced to Over Six Years in Prison for Illegally Possessing a Firearm
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Kenneth Saunders, 34, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced to over six years in prison (80 months), and three years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge John M. Younge for illegally possessing a firearm as a felon. Saunders was also on Pennsylvania state parole at the time of the offense.
The defendant pleaded guilty in March 2020 to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. During his plea hearing, Saunders admitted that he carried a firearm with an obliterated serial number and fled from Philadelphia police officers while carrying the gun on July 18, 2019. During that foot chase in the Logan neighborhood, Saunders grabbed the firearm from his waistband and pointed it at the pursuing officers before falling to the ground, after which police recovered the weapon.
According to court documents, Saunders was previously convicted of numerous felony offenses in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, including violations of the Uniform Firearms Act in 2005 and 2011 and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in 2010. Further, in 2004, the defendant was arrested for carrying a firearm without a license and endangering the welfare of a child. In that case, Saunders not only illegally possessed a gun, but also shot his two-year-old daughter with it. After pleading guilty, the defendant was sentenced to two to five years in Pennsylvania state prison.
“The crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm is a serious offense, particularly in a city like Philadelphia, where gun violence is running rampant,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Saunders has been living a life of crime for the better part of twenty years now, and has repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for the law. The answer to Philadelphia’s violent crime crisis is to get criminals like Sanders off of the streets, which is exactly what the U.S. Attorney’s Office is focused on.”
“As a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, Kenneth Saunders presented a real danger to the community and to law enforcement officers alike,” said John Schmidt, acting Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Despite being prohibited from possessing a firearm, he was armed when encountered by law enforcement. The federal prosecution of this crime demonstrates ATF’s dedication to working alongside our local, state and federal partners, in this case the Philadelphia Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to ensure violent individuals like Saunders are deprived of the ability to terrorize our community.”
“It is going to take an aligned and sustained collaborative effort with all of our law enforcement partners in order to combat the crisis of violence in our neighborhoods,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “Individuals like Mr. Saunders need to know that illegally carrying weapons on our streets will have serious and consistent consequences. I would like to thank our federal partners for helping us work towards our common goal of making our communities safer places to live and work.”
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly Harrell.