For Immediate Release
Shooters of Columbus Scammers, Two with Prior Felony Convictions, Sentenced in Online Gun Purchase Scheme
COLUMBUS, Ga. —The defendants involved in an online illegal gun purchase scheme targeting a Columbus firearms store have been sentenced for their crimes, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. U.S. District Judge Clay Land handed down the sentences on November 5, 2019. Keith Jones, 43, of Columbus, was sentenced to 75 months in prison, consecutive to any pending state revocation, three years of supervised release and $2890 restitution, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to make false statements and one count of aggravated identity fraud. Bruce Kennebrew, 31, of Columbus, was sentenced to 63 months in prison, consecutive to any state sentence, three years of supervised release and $2890 restitution, after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Demarcus Dixon, 24, of Columbus, was sentenced to ten months in prison, three years of supervised release and $2890 restitution, joint and severally with the other defendants, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to make false statements. There is no parole in the federal system.
The three defendants admitted they were involved in a scheme to obtain firearms illegally at Shooters of Columbus in which weapons were purchased online using stolen credit card and personal information. Mr. Jones obtained the stolen information and made the purchases online; Mr. Kennebrew knowingly provided the transportation necessary to accept delivery of the firearms; Mr. Dixon knowingly was used to make the illegal purchases because he did not have a criminal record and could lawfully obtain the firearms, which were purchased under his name. Two pistols and a rifle were purchased by Mr. Jones online between April 1, 2017 and April 3, 2017. One of the identity theft victims called Shooters of Columbus on April 3, 2017 to question unauthorized transactions made on a credit card at the exact moment Mr. Dixon was inside the store to pick up another illegally obtained firearm purchased by Mr. Jones online. Mr. Dixon was detained. Mr. Kennebrew was driving Mr. Dixon’s car at the time of the arrest.
Mr. Jones has a lengthy criminal history, with three prior felony convictions for financial identity fraud (Fayette County Superior Court), theft by taking (Rockdale County Superior Court) and theft by conversion (Clayton County Superior Court). Mr. Kennebrew has at least two prior criminal convictions for theft by receiving stolen property, as well as convictions for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Harris County Superior Court) and possession of MDMA (Muscogee County Superior Court).
“It is illegal for convicted felons to have firearms. Removing guns from the hands of convicted felons is a priority of our office, and part of a common sense strategy to decrease violent crime in Columbus and across the Middle District of Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “I want to thank the investigators with the Columbus Police Department and the ATF for their good work in this case.”
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. 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.
The case was investigated by the Columbus Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Assistant U.S. Attorney Melvin Hyde prosecuted the case for the Government. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.