Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

DOJ seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Georgia
Peter D. Leary, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, December 8, 2023

U.S. Attorney Leary Joins Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement Leaders To Announce Project Safe Neighborhoods Efforts in 2023

PSN Prosecutions of Convicted, Repeat Felons Illegally Possessing Guns

VALDOSTA, Ga. –  The U.S Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia joined with local, state and federal law enforcement leaders at the Historic Lowndes County Courthouse this afternoon to discuss Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) cases targeting convicted felons caught reoffending while armed and crime prevention efforts.

There are currently 129 active cases involving firearms and violent crime offenses in the Middle District of Georgia. This calendar year to date, 29 PSN cases have been indicted in the Valdosta Division, which encompasses Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Thomas and Tift counties. These law enforcement actions have removed firearms from the streets — including machine guns and firearm conversion devices known as “switches” that can turn handguns and semi-automatic weapons into a machine gun, allowing it to fire without repeatedly pulling the trigger.

“Reducing violent crime in Valdosta and across the District is the top goal of every law enforcement agency and community stakeholder involved with Project Safe Neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “These cases involve repeat reoffenders who are illegally armed. It’s a dangerous task our law enforcement partners take up every day, and we are thankful to them for their unyielding commitment to making our communities safer.”

“The FBI is actively working with our law enforcement partners to get violent repeat offenders off the streets,” said FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Rich Bilson. “To the repeat convicted felons, drug dealers and others out there hurting our neighbors: Be warned, we are a team, we are prepared for this fight and you will lose your battle to run our streets, spreading your violence and deadly drugs in our community.”

“Law enforcement at every level is united in the singular goal to make our communities safer and reduce violent crime,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka of the ATF Atlanta Field Division. “Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, ATF stands together with all of our partner agencies and the communities we serve with a laser-sharp focus on the most urgent violent crime problems.”

“The GBI is proud to continue to work with our local and federal partners to keep our communities safe and seek justice for these crime victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Jamy Steinberg of GBI Region 9 – Thomasville Field Office. “We have enjoyed long standing relationships with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, the Valdosta Police Department and our other law enforcement partners across the District. We expect these long-established relationships to last well into the future to continue to combat crime in the South Georgia area.”

“Project Safe Neighborhoods has allowed our office to make progress in adjudicating cases charging convicted felons with illegal possession of firearms,” said Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brad Shealy. “This year, 31 defendants from the Southern Judicial Circuit have been sentenced federally under PSN, receiving lengthy sentences without parole. Every month, the Valdosta PSN Task Force looks at approximately 20 cases to bring to PSN. Together, we can bring to justice our most violent, repeat offenders.”

“We are thankful for the relationships we maintain with federal, state and local law enforcement under Project Safe Neighborhoods to help get violent, repeat criminals off the streets,” said Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk. “It has been a fantastic collaboration in Lowndes County.”

“We are grateful for the partnership that we have with the U.S Attorney’s Office and the FBI with Project Safe Neighborhoods,” said Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan. “Because of the efforts of everyone working together, numerous firearms and dangerous convicted felons have been removed from our community. “

Violent crime prevention efforts are a critical component of Project Safe Neighborhoods. PSN community outreach efforts this calendar year include regular PSN Task Force meetings in Valdosta and cities across the District; grant support and implementation of the Credible Messengers program in the Middle District of Georgia, which provides mentors for young people in the Georgia Juvenile Justice system; educational training for law enforcement and community members on relevant safety and policing topics, including upcoming PSN firearms and narcotics trainings for law enforcement in Valdosta, Albany, Columbus, Warner Robins and Athens; and participation in Night to Unite and similar community building activities across the District.

PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. This evidence-based program has proven to be effective at reducing violent crime by engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders working together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in communities and developing comprehensive solutions that reduce crime. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses on prevention and intervention efforts through community engagement and problem-solving partnerships, strategic enforcement of the most violent offenders and locally based reentry programs to reduce recidivism.


An official website of the U.S. Department of Justice

Looking for U.S. government information and services?