DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Dakota

For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Ronald A. Parsons, Jr.
, United States Attorney
Contact: Ace Crawford

Rapid City Man Sentenced for Illegal Possession of Firearm

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person was sentenced by Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Judge.

Wanbli Morris, age 34, was sentenced on February 28, 2020, to 6 years in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

The conviction stems from Morris, a previously convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms, unlawfully being in possession of a stolen Hi-Point 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which he forcibly took from a sales clerk while robbing a Rapid City Fresh Start convenience store in April 2019.

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. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its 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 local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also 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. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Rapid City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson prosecuted the case.

Morris was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

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St. Paul Field Division