DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Ohio

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Justin E. Herdman
, United States Attorney
Contact: Mike Tobin

Several men indicted on federal firearms charges as part of program focused on domestic abusers with guns

Several people with domestic violence convictions have recently been indicted in federal court as part of an emphasis on keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.
 
Among those charged with firearms offenses: William G. Smith III, 33, of Ravenna; Edward Kennerly, 46, of Cleveland; Antonio Stewart, 30, of Lorain; Elijah Harder, 23, of Cleveland; Steven Kennedy, 29, of Euclid; Jason Calton, 44, of Liberty Center.
 
“The law is clear: if you have been convicted of domestic violence, even a misdemeanor, or have an active protection order, you are not allowed to have a gun,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “Data tells us that more than half of all women homicide victims were killed by their partners. We also know one of the greatest risks for police officers is responding to a domestic disturbance. These indictments will help make our community safer.”
 
“We should all feel safe in our homes, with our families, friends, and loved ones,” said Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division.  “It is a breach of trust when family members  suffer violence at the hands of those they trust most.  ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who break that trust while using firearms face the full consequences of their actions.”
 
Federal prosecutors in recent months have met with police, local prosecutors and domestic violence advocates to discuss filing more federal indictments for domestic abusers found to be in possession of firearms.  
 
A study by the Centers for Disease Control released in July showed more than 55 percent of the deaths of women came at the hands of an intimate partner. The study examined more than 10,000 homicides between 2003 and 2014.
Additionally, several police officers killed in the line of duty recently in Ohio were killed while responding to domestic violence calls.
 
This enforcement initiative is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which one year ago Attorney General Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s violent crime reduction strategy. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
 
Smith had a SCCY 9mm pistol, a Remington .22-caliber rifle, a Masterpiece Arms .45-caliber pistol, a Ruger 5.56-caliber rifle , a Glock .45-caliber pistol and a Romarm Cugir 7.62-caliber rifle earlier this year, despite a previous conviction for domestic violence, according to court documents.
 
Kennerly attempted to buy a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun from Gold Star Pawn & Gun in Eastlake last year. Kennerly made false statements in an effort to acquire the shotgun, including that he was not under a restraining order from the court barring him from contact with his intimate partner and that he was not under indictment for domestic violence, according to court documents.
 
Stewart had a CN Romarm 7.62-caliber assault rifle, a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun, another Smith & Wesson handgun and ammunition in August, despite a conviction for domestic violence, according to court documents.
 
Harder possessed a Derringer Corp. GE, Model CB9 pistol in May after having been convicted of domestic violence, according to court documents.
 
Kennedy in August possessed a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol and ammunition despite a previous conviction for domestic violence, according to court documents.
 
Calton possessed a Harrington & Richardson .22-caliber revolver last year, despite a previous conviction for domestic violence, according to court documents.
 
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
 
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
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Field Division: Columbus Field Division