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Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Monday, February 10, 2020
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney

Previously Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Firearm and Drug Charges

RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond man pleaded guilty today to possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute.

According to court documents, Derrick Leon Williams, Jr., 22, was arrested by Richmond Police after attempting to flee from a traffic stop in August 2019. As officers secured Williams, they found two loaded semi-automatic handguns stashed in a fanny pack strapped across his chest. One of those firearms had been reported stolen from Hanover County. When officers took Williams to jail for processing, they discovered two large baggies of a white rock-like substance in Williams’ pants. Subsequent testing confirmed the substance to be 26.9 grams of crack cocaine.

Williams pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on May 8. 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; Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division; and William C. Smith, Chief of Richmond Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Elliker and Angela Mastandrea-Miller are prosecuting the case.

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. 3:19-cr-171.

Washington Field Division