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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Today, U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio filed charges against more than 200 new defendants with firearms-related crimes in Fiscal Year 2020. The district also prosecuted* 23 defendants for murder during this timeframe, with the vast majority involving firearms.

The number of firearms matters received by the office, as well as the number of defendants charged, increased by approximately 26 percent compared to the district’s past four-year average.

The cases are a result of the partnership between federal and local law enforcement in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton. In Fiscal Year 2020, city and county prosecuting attorneys have dedicated more manpower to taking firearms cases federally by assigning Special Assistant United States Attorneys from their offices.

The following local offices have dedicated Special Assistant United States Attorneys to prosecute federal firearms offenses:

  • Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien (three SAUSAs)
  • Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein (two SAUSAs)
  • Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (one full-time SAUSA)
  • Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters (one full-time SAUSA)

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess a firearm if you fall into one of nine prohibited categories, including being a felon, convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense or under a court authorized restraining order. These crimes can be punished by up to 10 years in federal prison.

Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. Defendants convicted of these crimes face a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life in prison.

Individuals with domestic violence misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders, are prohibited from possessing firearms. The data shows that offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a high risk of homicide. In fact, domestic violence abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners.

“If you’re prohibited from possessing a gun and you get caught with a firearm in this district, you’re going to federal prison,” the U.S. Attorney said. “You’re going to prison for years, not months. You’re not getting probation and you are going out of the state to a Bureau of Prisons facility.”

In Columbus, DeVillers announced today that he designated two parts of the city as “hot zones” and committed to increasing the number of federal prosecutions for gun offenses committed in the Hilltop and Linden neighborhoods of Columbus.

DeVillers announced federal charges against 16 defendants at the end of September in Cincinnati as part of a Cincinnati gun violence initiative with ATF, Cincinnati Police and the Hamilton County Sheriff.

In August, a Huber Heights man was sentenced in federal court in Dayton to the statutory maximum 10 years in prison for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

“This office has a long history of prosecuting the worst of the worst when it comes to homicide cases, the vast majority of which involve cold case murders committed by repeat violent offenders who have threatened, intimidated and even killed witnesses,” DeVillers said. “Holding these criminals accountable can only be done with the help and cooperation of our county and city prosecutors and local law enforcement.”

The Dayton office charged three men in November 2019 in the murder of Dayton Police Detective and DEA Task Force Officer Jorge DelRio.

The Columbus Office prosecuted defendants for murder in the Trevitt and Atcheson crips gang case that involves five murders charged, including the murder of a seven-year-old bystander. Also in Columbus, Antwan Hutchinson was sentenced to life in prison for murdering two potential witnesses. Additionally, six MS-13 defendants were prosecuted in Fiscal Year 2020 for murder involving a firearm.

The Cincinnati office indicted its first-ever federal murder case in July 2020.

DeVillers added, “2020 has brought historic levels of gun violence to our cities. The year has also brought unique challenges to police and prosecutors who combat this violence. It is vital that we work together and with the community to target the extremely small population of violent offenders who create such a huge and horrific impact on our communities.” 

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*Prosecuted includes case proceedings such as indictments, pleas and sentencings that occurred during FY 2020

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