For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland Ending the Year Strong and Remaining Focused on Reducing Gun Crime
BALTIMORE and GREENBELT, Md. – During the week of Dec. 4-8, nine defendants pleaded guilty or were sentenced in cases involving the illegal possession of firearms or ammunition. The charges included illegal possession of firearms or ammunition, relating to carjacking and drug distribution, as well as the possession of loaded firearms, including ghost guns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that were seized.
Prosecutors are using all available resources and any legal means necessary to investigate and prosecute repeat violent offenders. This commitment to reducing violent crime has helped contribute to homicides in Baltimore being down approximately 19% and non-fatal shootings are down approximately 8.6% and homicides and non-fatal shootings are also down in Prince George’s County.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains laser focused on reducing gun crime in Maryland,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “By working collaboratively with federal, state and local law enforcement and our community partners to implement innovative programs to reduce violent crime, we are making progress in our fight to reduce homicides and non-fatal shootings across the state.”
The sentences and guilty pleas were announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Division; Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the FBI, Baltimore Field Office; Commissioner Richard Worley of the Baltimore Police Department; Chief Robert McCullough of the Baltimore County Police Department; Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Barron announced several new programs at a press conference in August 2022, including a new Violent and Organized Crime Section, expanded collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement, and state funds supporting the hiring of additional Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, whose sole focus has been on violent crime, along with investigators, and other legal support personnel. U.S. Attorney Barron has also worked closely with the Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General to combat COVID-19 pandemic fraud and violent crime by embedding multiple DOL-OIG within the U.S. Attorney’s Office and as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s COVID-19 Strike Force.
In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is continuing to sponsor and participate in reentry events for returning citizens, as well as call-ins for those at risk of re-offending, in order to connect them with services and assistance to assure their best chance for success. We are also engaging community members and youth through monthly community walks, and school outreach.
Illegal Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition
On Dec. 4, U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III sentenced D’ong Leverett, 25, of Baltimore, to three years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for being a felon in possession of ammunition. Leverett was arrested after law enforcement executed a search warrant at his home and recovered a Polymer80 9mm handgun, bearing no serial number, with an extended magazine containing 24 rounds of 9mm ammunition and a 7.62 x 39mm pistol with an extended magazine loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition from Leverett’s bedroom inside the home. Officers also searched Leverett’s vehicle and recovered a box of 24 rounds of 9mm ammunition in the glove box and two rounds of 9mm ammunition in the center console. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Tsuei.
On Dec. 5, Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Andre Barnhardt, 42, of Baltimore, to 63 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Barnhardt was arrested on Jan. 10, 2023, after officers monitoring the Citiwatch camera in the area across from Lexington Market observed Barnhardt perform two security checks of his waistband and open his jacket to a group of men to show them something in his waistband area. Barnhardt was also seen engaging in a hand-to-hand drug transaction. An arrest team went to the area and arrested Barnhardt. A search of Barnhardt’s pick-up truck recovered a 9mm handgun, loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition, wedged between the driver’s seat and the center console. A red laser gun attachment was also located in the center console, along with marijuana and 20 pills of various colors, shapes and markings. A search incident to arrest also recovered a 9mm cartridge of ammunition and $3,020 in cash. Officers later recovered an additional 47 pills, including 34 amphetamine and 5 oxycodone pills. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Hammond.
On Dec. 7, U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Antjoun Riddick, 45, of Accokeek, Maryland, to 54 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Riddick was convicted on August 1, after a two-day trial. According to the evidence presented at trial, on Jan. 21, 2022, U.S. Marshals Service deputies were conducting surveillance on Riddick’s residence to serve an outstanding arrest warrant for him issued by the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. When Riddick exited the residence and walked toward his vehicle, they activated the emergency equipment on their vehicles and approached Riddick, telling him to step away from the car and show his hands. Deputies saw Riddick quickly raise his left hand, but his right hand hesitated near his waist area before he was handcuffed. After his arrest, Riddick admitted that he had a gun in his waistband and deputies recovered a 9mm pistol loaded with 18 rounds of ammunition, including one in the chamber. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy F. Hagan and Joshua A. Rosenthal.
On Dec. 4, Juan Price-Bey, 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III. On Dec. 2, 2022, Price-Bey was arrested after Baltimore Police Department officers monitoring a Citiwatch surveillance camera observed Juan Price-Bey, wearing a blue sweatsuit, dark jacket, red satchel bag and holding a black plastic bag, pull four tubes of suspected marijuana from the bag and display them in a known open-air drug market. An arrest team was called to the area. As officers approached, Price-Bey dropped everything, including the suspected marijuana and ran in the opposite direction while simultaneously trying to remove his jacket and red satchel, which got tangled around PriceBey’s feet. Price-Bey tripped and fell. As the red satchel hit the ground, a gunshot went off. Price-Bey continued to flee, but he was quickly apprehended and arrested. Officers recovered the four tubes of suspected marijuana and the red bag, which had a noticeable hole in the bottom of it where a bullet exited. Officers recovered a.45 caliber handgun, loaded with nine rounds from the bag. A spent shell casing was stuck inside the ejection port of the firearm. Other officers located a spent projectile in the street from the discharged firearm as well as additional bullet fragments. Judge Russell has scheduled sentencing for PriceBey on Feb. 22, 2024. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Hammond.
On Dec. 4, Erron Taylor, 39, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett. On Sept. 27, 2022, Taylor, was arrested by Baltimore Police officers after they saw him in a verbal altercation with a crowd of people near Lexington Market and saw that he was armed. A handgun with an obliterated serial number loaded with seven rounds of ammunition was recovered from Taylor’s person during a search after his arrest. Judge Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Taylor on Feb. 21, 2024, at 11 a.m. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Gordin.
On Dec. 7, Joseph Milligan, 23, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher. On April 20, 2022, Milligan was observed by Baltimore Police detectives adjusting his front waistband with both hands, consistent with an armed person checking that the firearm he carries is secure. Believing Milligan to be armed, detectives approached him and Milligan fled, holding a silver firearm in his hand, which he threw before he was caught and arrested. The gun, a .40-caliber pistol loaded with nine rounds of .40-caliber ammunition, was recovered from where Milligan had thrown it. Judge Gallagher has scheduled sentencing for Milligan on March 21, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen E. McGuinn.
On Dec. 7, Gregory Jones, 24, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow. On June 17, 2022, Jones was arrested after a search at his home recovered a .45 caliber pistol, loaded with seven rounds of .45 caliber ammunition. Jones admitted that he discharged the weapon on two occasions in April 2022. He further admitted that he was not the lawful owner of the weapon and that he had reason to believe it was stolen. Judge Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for Jones on March 29, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia C. McLane.
All of the defendants admitted that they knew they had been convicted of a felony and were prohibited from possessing firearms and/or ammunition.
Drug Trafficking, Ghost Guns and Illegal Possession of Ammunition
On Dec. 5, U.S. District Judge Lydia K. Griggsby sentenced William Reyes Garcia, aka “Will,” 33, of Silver Spring, Maryland, to 15 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine as well as being a felon in possession of ammunition. Between September 2020 and January 2022, Reyes Garcia and his coconspirators participated in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that distributed at least five kilograms of cocaine, shipping the cocaine from Brownsville, Texas, to locations in Maryland associated with the conspirators. Reyes Garcia’s fingerprints were obtained from one of the lids on the cocaine containers in the seized packages. Search warrants were executed at locations associated with Reyes Garcia on Jan. 20, 2022, and law enforcement recovered more than 139 grams of cocaine and more than 101 kilograms of marijuana; a privately manufactured 9mm semi-automatic handgun, commonly known as a “ghost gun;” a magazine loaded with 22 rounds of 9mm ammunition; 53 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition; 42 rounds of .45-caliber ammunition; 50 rounds of .380-caliber ammunition; firearms parts, including a frame, slide, barrel, barrel spring and magazine; and drug paraphernalia, including digital scales with drug residue and a money counter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel Crespo and Elizabeth Wright.
Carjacking and Using, Carrying and Brandishing a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence
On Dec. 7, Carlos Guardado-Eagle, 21, of Hagerstown, Maryland, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman to carjacking and to using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, related to his participation in four carjackings and one attempted carjacking between May 15, 2022, and June 6, 2022. Guardado-Eagle and his co-conspirator wore masks to conceal their identities and were armed during each carjacking, displaying the firearms when confronting the carjacking victims and demanding their vehicles. Judge Boardman has scheduled sentencing for Guardado-Eagle on March 5, 2024, at 2 p.m. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Potter and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah B. Grossi.
These cases are 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy, strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.
The Reyes Garcia case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF, HSI, DEA, FBI, Baltimore Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, Prince George’s County Police Department and Montgomery County Police Department for their work in these investigations and thanked the Assistant U.S. Attorneys and the Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the cases.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities and resources available to help the community visit www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.