DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
McGregor W. Scott
, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood

Fresno Men Plead Guilty to Firearms Offenses

Five Others Have Pleaded Guilty to Charges Stemming From a Multi-Agency Gang Investigation

FRESNO, Calif. — On Monday, Devone Johnson, 32, and Anthony Thomas, 26, pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing firearms, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, on October 9, 2016, Johnson and Thomas possessed an Uzi Model A, 9 mm rifle. Thomas was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a previous felony conviction. Johnson was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.

Johnson and Thomas were arrested on November 3, 2016, along with 18 other defendants following a year-long multi-agency investigation that targeted criminal street gangs in Fresno. Other defendants also have pleaded guilty to various firearms and drug offenses, including:

  • Garry Sampson, 40, pleaded guilty on August 1, 2018, to unlawfully possessing a firearm. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 22, 2018.
  • Raymond Jones, 61, pleaded guilty on August 6, 2018, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5, 2018.
  • Danny Valenzuela, 51, pleaded guilty on July 30, 2018, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5, 2018.
  • Stephen Hill, 28, pleaded guilty on September 25, 2017, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. On December 18, 2017, Hill was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
  • Rashad Halford, 31, pleaded guilty on September 25, 2017, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. On March 12, 2018, Halford was sentenced to two years and two months in prison.

These cases are the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation Special Operations Unit, the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the Fresno Police Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit (SOU). The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the Clovis Police Department, Fresno County Probation, and the California Highway Patrol assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly A. Sanchez and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the cases.

Johnson and Thomas are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on October 29, 2018, and November 5, 2018, respectively. They face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s 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 the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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Field Division: San Francisco Field Division