DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Robert J. Higdon, Jr.
, United States Attorney
Contact: Don Connelly

Smithfield Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Felon in Possession Charge

RALEIGH – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today, Chief Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced AFRIES SANDONICAES MAHAM, 34, of Smithfield, North Carolina, to 180 months imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervised release.
 
MAHAM was named in an Indictment on August 22, 2017 charging him with Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. On January 8, 2018, MAHAM pled guilty to that charge.
 
On February 20, 2017, officers with the Smithfield Police Department (SPD) responded to a domestic call at a home in Smithfield. As officers were approaching the residence, a female exited the home and met the officers. She appeared upset, but had no visible signs of injury. One of the officers then knocked on the door of the residence and her boyfriend answered. Immediately officers noticed an odor of marijuana emanating from his person.
 
When questioned by officers, he admitted to smoking marijuana, but maintained there was no marijuana in the residence.
 
During a subsequent search of the residence, officers detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from an upstairs bedroom. Officers knocked on the door of the bedroom and asked the occupants of the room to exit. MAHAM and a female came out of the bedroom. A search of the room uncovered approximately 0.5 gram of marijuana in a plastic bag, a partially burned marijuana cigarette in an ashtray, and a stolen .38 caliber revolver. The female acknowledged ownership of the glass smoking pipe; however, MAHAM advised that the gun belonged to him. MAHAM admitted that he was a convicted felon and should not have a firearm in his possession.
 
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. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s 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 the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
 
In support of PSN, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina has implemented the TakeBack North Carolina Initiative. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.
 
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Smithfield Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney S. Katherine Burnette handled the prosecution of this case for the government.
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Field Division: Charlotte Field Division