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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Connecticut

For Immediate Release

September 21, 2012

David B. Fein, United States Attorney

Contact: Tom Carson

Three Individuals Charged with Federal Firearms Trafficking Offenses

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in New Haven returned an indictment yesterday charging JAWAWN RICARDO HALE, also known as "Nur," 30, of Roanoke, Va., CHARLES MATTHEW WILSON, also known as "Matt," 26, of Roanoke, and LESHEL BRANCH, 31, of New Haven, with firearms offenses stemming from an investigation into firearms trafficking from Virginia to Connecticut.

The indictment alleges that, between June and August 2012, HALE illegally sold seven firearms and a quantity of ammunition to an individual in Connecticut. HALE acquired the firearms from WILSON and others in Virginia, and then transported the firearms to Connecticut. BRANCH assisted HALE in the transportation and distribution of the firearms.

The indictment charges each of the three defendants with conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms with a license, and dealing firearms without a license. Both of these charges carry a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

The indictment further alleges that HALE and WILSON possessed firearms after being convicted of felony offenses. HALE was convicted in 1999, in Virginia, of murder in the second degree and using a firearm in the commission of a murder, and WILSON was convicted in 2006, in Virginia, of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and, in 2012, of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.

This charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. HALE, WILSON and BRANCH were arrested on August 23, 2012, by officers with the New Haven Police Department and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, after selling two firearms for $2,400. All three defendants have been detained since their arrests.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by ATF, and the New Haven Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anthony E. Kaplan and Peter D. Markle.

The Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, and improving the safety of residents of Connecticut's cities.