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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of Illinois
Gregory K. Harris, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, December 8, 2023

Springfield, Illinois, Man Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Firearm Possession and Covid-19 Fraud

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A Springfield man, Demetrius S. Washington, 27, was sentenced on Dec. 6 to a total of 108 months' imprisonment: 96 months for possession of a weapon by a felon and a consecutive 12 months for wire fraud. In addition to the sentence of imprisonment, Washington was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay $10,843.84 in restitution to the Small Business Administration.

At the sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Colleen R. Lawless, the government presented evidence that Washington, a convicted felon, was found in possession of a loaded Glock firearm with a 50 round drum magazine when he was arrested in connection with an unrelated case in March 2022. The government presented evidence that the recovered Glock firearm was test-fired, and shell casings were entered into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The NIBIN system reported a connection between the recovered firearm and an October 2021 shooting in Springfield. That connection was confirmed by the ATF’s Forensic Science Laboratory. Additional evidence showed that during the October 2021 crime, Washington gave the firearm to a juvenile who, moments later, fired multiple shots at an occupied sedan in the parking lot of a gas station. No one was injured in the shooting. Further evidence indicated Washington was actively trying to obtain additional firearms during the six months between the shooting and his arrest on unrelated state charges. Additional evidence showed that Washington fraudulently obtained over $10,000 from the Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

During the hearing, Judge Lawless noted that, as a result of Washington’s conduct, innocent citizens of Springfield had to flee for safety. Judge Lawless further remarked that the sentence was necessary to protect the public and deter others from similar crimes.

Washington remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service, where he has been since his federal arrest on April 26, 2022. The defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon by a felon and three counts of wire fraud on April 14, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. McNaught.

The statutory penalties for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person at the time of Washington’s offense were up to 10 years’ imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release. The statutory penalties for wire fraud are up to 20 years’ imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release.

“The ready availability of guns has caused an unacceptable spike of violence in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “For the protection of our community, we warn individuals contributing to such violence that federal, state and local government agencies are working together to hold you accountable. We also will continue to prosecute COVID fraudsters and work to recover pandemic relief funds that were fraudulently obtained.”

“This case illustrates how Crime Gun Intelligence such as NIBIN helps law enforcement prioritize offenders who illegally possess firearms that were used in shootings,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Christopher Amon of the Chicago Field Division. “I commend the Central District of Illinois United States Attorney for prosecuting these felons in possession cases, holding accountable those who create such havoc in our community.”

“The Springfield Police Department is committed to preventing gun violence and holding those accountable who choose to break the law,” said Springfield Police Department Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations Sara Pickford. “This successful prosecution is another example of the flourishing partnership that has developed between the Springfield Police Department, ATF and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

“The U.S. Secret Service and our law enforcement partners remain committed to identifying, investigating and pursuing those who attempt to enrich themselves through fraudulent means,” said Stephen S. Webster, U.S. Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge, Springfield Resident Office. “We are proud of our partnerships with the federal, state and local agencies who work collectively to hold these individuals accountable for their actions.”

The Springfield Police Department investigated the firearms case with assistance from the ATF. The case against Washington is part of a committed effort to combat gun violence in Sangamon County by law enforcement including the Springfield Police Department, Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office, the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Secret Service investigated the wire fraud case, with assistance from the Springfield Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Seberger represented the government in the prosecution.

The firearms case against Washington 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department of Justice 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.

COVID-19 disaster relief benefits are intended to help people and businesses suffering as a result of the pandemic. If members of the public suspect that anyone fraudulently obtained or misused benefits, they should contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NDCF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submit the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19). Hotline staff will obtain information regarding complaints, which will then be reviewed by law enforcement officials. More information is available at


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