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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Nevada
Jason M. Frierson, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Las Vegas Felon Sentenced to Prison for Unlawful Possession of Short-Barrel Rifle With Obliterated Serial Number

LAS VEGAS – A prior convicted felon and Las Vegas resident was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for unlawful possession of a short-barrel AR-15 pattern rifle with an obliterated serial number.

Martel Deavon Nelson, 38, pleaded guilty in November 2022 to felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, on July 5, 2020, Nelson left his car running at the curb in the valet parking area outside a Las Vegas casino’s entrance. He entered the casino and walked bare-footed to the bar and said to the cashier “Give me my money.” He refused to leave the casino and he became belligerent, lunging at one of the security officers. While Nelson scuffled with security personnel inside the casino, a security officer outside the casino looked into Nelson’s car and observed an AR-15 pattern firearm between the driver seat and center console. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers responded and during the execution of a search warrant of Nelson’s vehicle recovered the short-barreled rifle with an obliterated serial number, a vertical fore-grip, and a large-capacity magazine inserted.

Nelson has a prior felony conviction in San Bernardino County, Calif., for attempted murder, and by law he is prohibited to possess a firearm.

United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada and Acting Special Agent in Charge Joshua Jackson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) made the announcement.

The ATF investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Dan Cowhig prosecuted the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a nationwide program by the Department of Justice that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority. In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, the Department announced the reinvigoration of PSN. For more information about PSN, visit

If you have information pertaining to illegal firearms activity such as a straw purchase, please contact the ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Anonymous tips may also be submitted to ATF through the ReportIt mobile app.

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