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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Connecticut Financial Center
157 Church Street
New Haven, Connecticut 06510

For Immediate Release

February 25, 2009

Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney

Contact: Tom Carson, Public Information Office

(203) 821-3722

(203) 996-1393 (cell)

Project Safe Neighborhoods:
Bristol Man Sentenced to More Than Four Years in Federal Prison for Illegal Firearm Possession

Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that TYREE THOMAS, also known as “Pretty,” 25, of Bristol, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 51 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. On November 15, 2007, THOMAS pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, on March 15, 2006, Lucas Bell, Teon Thomas and others, burglarized a firearms dealer in Taylors, South Carolina, and stole 31 firearms. Teon Thomas, of Seneca, is the younger brother of TYREE THOMAS. In order to avoid detection by surveillance cameras, the perpetrators knocked a hole in the wall of the store with a sledgehammer and extracted the firearms, all of which were handguns, with a fishing net. Three of the firearms were either dropped or discarded close to the scene of the burglary. Subsequent investigations have resulted in the recovery of only nine of the handguns, eight in Connecticut and one in New York City. TYREE THOMAS was in South Carolina at the time of the burglary and had knowledge of the theft of firearms.

On March 29, 2006, the first two of the firearms that had been stolen from the Taylors burglary were recovered by the Middletown Police Department. Information obtained by the Middletown Police department early in the investigation indicated that Bell, also known as “Iraq,” of Middletown, was responsible for selling guns in Middletown. Agents assigned to the Hartford Violent Crime Impact Team subsequently confirmed that Teon Thomas played an integral role with Bell in the theft, transport and distribution of the firearms that were stolen on March 15, 2006. The investigation revealed that the day after the theft of the firearms dealer, Teon Thomas and Bell brought the guns to Richard Davison’s residence in Seneca, South Carolina. After an incident at the “Trap,” an area in Seneca known for criminal activity, where one or more of the stolen firearms were used in a shooting incident, Teon Thomas accompanied Bell, Amie Caron, and others in Caron’s vehicle in a trip to Bristol, Connecticut. The guns were stored in the trunk of Caron’s car. For a short period of time, the firearms were stored at TYREE THOMAS’ Bristol apartment. Teon Thomas and Bell then sold the guns in the Middletown area.

The charge to which TYREE THOMAS pleaded guilty stems from the sale of a sawed-off shotgun to another individual. The shotgun was not one of the firearms taken during the South Carolina burglary.

On April 25, 2007, a federal grand jury in Hartford returned an Indictment charging TYREE THOMAS, Teon Thomas Bell, Davison, Caron and others with various gun trafficking and possession offenses. Each of the defendants has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

TYREE THOMAS has been incarcerated since August 2007.

Acting U.S. Attorney Dannehy noted that this prosecution is part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. This program is aimed at reducing gun violence, deterring illegal possession, sale and trafficking of guns, and improving the safety of residents throughout Connecticut. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The case was investigated by the Hartford Violent Crime Impact Team, the Middletown and Bristol Police Departments, and the Greenville County (SC) Sheriff’s Department. The VCIT, which is a joint task force dedicated to combating violent crime and firearms violations, is composed of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Hartford Police Department, the United States Marshals Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian P. Leaming.