DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Georgia

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Bobby L. Christine
, United States Attorney
Contact: Tara M. Lyons

Five Men Sentenced for Illegally Possessing and Dealing Firearms in the Augusta Area

AUGUSTA, GA: On March 12, 2018, Mark Winston Pickrell and Aubrey Dean Bullard were sentenced for their respective roles in a conspiracy to illegally possess and sell unregistered firearms.  The sentences were handed down by the Honorable Chief Judge J. Randal Hall, United States District Court. 

Pickrell and Bullard were two of five defendants indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2017 in an eighteen-count indictment charging controlled substance and firearms violations.  All five defendants – Pickrell, Bullard, Danny Lee Thomas, Ralph Guemell Poole, and Christopher Earl Duckworth – entered into plea agreements in which they acknowledged committing crimes related to the illegal possession and sale of firearms.  

According to his plea agreement, Pickrell admitted that between March 2, 2016 and May 10, 2016, he engaged in the business of dealing firearms without a license.  Specifically, Pickrell admitted that he was responsible for selling seven firearms, to include four machine guns, knowing that the weapons would likely end up in the hands of those who would commit crimes.  Pickrell pleaded guilty to one count of dealing in firearms without a license, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A). Judge Hall sentenced Pickrell to 56 months in prison and three years of supervised release. 

According to his plea agreement, Bullard admitted, that on May 10, 2016, he unlawfully possessed and transferred two Sten 9 mm machine guns, and that he test fired those machine guns in order to facilitate their illegal sale. Bullard pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 5861(d) and 5871. Judge Hall sentenced Bullard to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release. 

On February 26, 2018, Judge Hall sentenced Thomas, Poole, and Duckworth to 38, 120 and 188 months, respectively, for their roles in this conspiracy and related controlled substance violations.

United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine stated, “The United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Georgia is committed to aggressively prosecuting violations of gun laws currently on the books.”   

“This investigation serves as a textbook example of the success that can be achieved when we blend our investigative experiences with our state and local partners as we continue to aggressively address the crimes that plague our communities,” said Resident Agent in Charge Timothy Graden. “Individuals who are brazen enough to sell machine guns and drugs pose a clear and present danger and they must be removed from our street.”

U.S. Attorney Christine commended the hard work and dedication of the ATF, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), North Augusta Department of Public Safety (NADPS), Aiken County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), Aiken Department of Public Safety (ADPS), Burke County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which investigated the case.  Special Agent Ronald Rhodes led the ATF’s investigation. 

Assistant United States Attorney Tara M. Lyons prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. For any questions, please contact the United States Attorney’s Office at (912) 652-4422.


Atlanta Field Division