Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Tampa Multi-Convicted Felon Sentenced to Federal Prison for Possession of a Loaded Firearm
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge William F. Jung has sentenced James Williams, III (29, Tampa) to nine years and two months in federal prison following conviction for one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also ordered to forfeit the firearm and serve three years of supervised release. Williams had pleaded guilty on March 2, 2022.
According to facts presented in court, on May 5, 2021, Tampa Police Department (TPD) Officers were conducting an undercover narcotics operation. While conducting surveillance, police observed Williams drive up to the target house in a black BMW, with expired registration, and go inside. Officers had prior contact with Williams and knew that his drivers’ license had been suspended. Shortly thereafter, the officers saw Williams leave the residence and get back in the BMW and drive away. He was the sole occupant of the car. TPD officers conducted a traffic stop on the BMW and arrested Williams for driving while his license was suspended.
During the initial contact, police immediately detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside Williams’ vehicle. Officers also observed a leafy substance on and around the driver’s seat and the center console of the car. During a search of the vehicle, officers found a small plastic baggie with marijuana inside Williams’ front, left pants pocket, and a fabric backpack on the front passenger seat of the vehicle, next to where Williams had been sitting. Inside of the backpack was a brown jar containing marijuana, a larger clear plastic baggie filled with a large quantity of marijuana, a half-filled box of unused clear sandwich sized baggies, and a black and stainless-steel digital scale with marijuana residue on it. The marijuana weighed in at approximately 220.8 grams.
In addition, police also located a black semi-automatic FN Herstal model Five-Seven 5.7x28mm caliber pistol on the floor, at the base of the driver’s seat. The pistol, which was easily accessible to Williams, was loaded with 19 rounds in the magazine, and 1 live round in the chamber. Forensic analysis later confirmed that DNA obtained from Williams matched DNA found on the firearm. Subsequent investigation revealed photos of Williams posing with the firearm on his social media accounts. The firearm had been reported stolen eight months prior to being recovered from Williams. At the time of the incident, Williams had been convicted of multiple felonies, including resisting an officer with violence, possession of forged credit cards, possession of marijuana, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Therefore, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Tampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Craig Gestring.
This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, 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.