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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Michigan
Dawn N. Ison, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Marijuana Vending Machine Owner Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Possessing Firearm

DETROIT – A man who owned and operated a marijuana vending machine in Detroit has pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today.

Ison was joined in the announcement by James M. Deir, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Detroit Division.

Marcellus Cornwell, 44, of Detroit, entered his guilty plea in front of United States District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III.

An anonymous tip alerted ATF agents to Cornwell’s marijuana vending machine last spring. Cornwell had been operating the marijuana vending machine for about four years. After an investigation, ATF agents executed a search warrant at Cornwell’s then-residence and discovered ammunition, marijuana, and 18 firearms in a basement gun safe. Cornwell had been previously convicted of identity theft, felony firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and armed robbery, which are all felonies. Three of the guns that Cornwell possessed had had been reported as stolen.

Cornwell faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000.

“Firearms pose a danger to our community. These weapons should not be in the hands of convicted felons. The number of weapons this defendant possessed despite being a prohibited person combined with his drug dealing makes his conduct even more egregious,” U.S. Attorney Ison said.

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates ATF’s steadfast commitment to ensuring public safety in Michigan by identifying and holding anyone accountable who illegally acquires and/or possesses a firearm.” ATF Detroit Special Agent in Charge James Deir “Our highly experienced Special Agents, utilized unique information and intelligence programs working side by side our local law enforcement, and U.S. Attorney partners which was critical to the success of today’s case.”

Sentencing is scheduled for September 14, 2023.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara Hindelang and Catherine Morris.

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