DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney
Contact: Joshua Stueve

Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Firearms Possession

RICHMOND, Va. – A Prince William County man pleaded guilty yesterday to possession of a firearm after being convicted of a felony.

According to court documents, Michael Tutwiler, 38, was found in possession of numerous firearms and several firearm silencers after a conviction. ATF was conducting an investigation into the illegal importation of firearm silencers, and through that investigation determined that Tutwiler had likely received firearm silencers shipped from China through the mail. Based on their investigation, agents of the ATF executed a federal search warrant at Tutwiler’s residence in October 2019. They found several firearm silencers, over 30 firearms, and assorted ammunition at various places in Tutwiler’s home and garage.

Tutwiler pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on March 26. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter S. Duffey is prosecuting the case.

This case was investigated by ATF Richmond, Homeland Security Investigations - Richmond, and  Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:18-cr-163.

Washington Field Division