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Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Thursday, August 21, 2014
Bill Nettles
, United States Attorney
Contact: Stacey D. Haynes

Rock Hill Felon Pleads Guilty to Firearms and Ammunition Charge

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that JOHN EDWARD CONTARTESI, age 33, of Rock Hill, South Carolina pled guilty today in federal court.  CONTARTESI plead guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).  Senior United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour accepted the plea and will impose a sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on January 22, 2014, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), executed a federal search warrant at CONTARTESI’s Rock Hill residence after learning that CONTARTESI, a prohibited felon, was in possession of firearms and ammunition.  When agents arrived, CONTARTESI met them in the driveway.  Agents noticed that CONTARTESI had a Glock 9mm handgun stuck in the back waistband of his pants. Agents secured the weapon and found that it had been modified to fire as an automatic weapon and was equipped with a high capacity 30-round magazine and loaded with 21 rounds of 9mm ammunition.   Inside CONTARTESI’s residence, agents seized a Bushmaster AR 15 .223 caliber short-barreled rifle with a high capacity magazine, a AK-47 7.62x39 caliber semi-automatic assault rifle with a high capacity magazine, a Keltec .22 caliber pistol with a high capacity magazine, and hundreds of rounds various types of ammunition.  The Bushmaster AR 15 short-barreled rifle was also modified to fire automatically as a machinegun.

CONTARTESI, is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and/or ammunition based upon his prior state felony conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. CONTARTESI also has prior state convictions including simple assault and battery and threatening the life of a public employee.   

Mr. Nettles stated that CONTARTESI faces a statutory maximum sentence of ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years following the term of imprisonment.  

The case was investigated by ATF and was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases.  ATF was assisted in execution of the search warrant by agents with the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.

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