NORFOLK, Va. – Today U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger provided an update on the status of Project Guardian, our strategic effort to reduce violent crime and further enforce federal firearms laws across the Eastern District of Virginia, including here in Hampton Roads.
“We are committed to combating violent crime and firearms offenses in our Tidewater Divisions,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The prosecutors of the Eastern District, in conjunction with ATF and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, are doubling down on illegal firearms offenses through Project Guardian.”
During Fiscal Year 2020, from Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020, the Norfolk and Newport News Divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office have charged over 85 defendants with firearms-related offenses, including straw purchases, illegal possession of firearms by previously convicted felons and other prohibited persons, and carrying, brandishing, or discharging a firearm during a crime of violence or in relation to a drug trafficking offense. One such collaborative effort was Operation High Tide, which resulted in 23 convictions and combined sentences of over 187 years for previously convicted felons who illegally possessed firearms and many of whom sold narcotics while in possession of firearms.
Project Guardian is the Justice Department’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.
Project Guardian in EDVA localizes the Justice Department’s national effort, and expands upon the current partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia, the ATF, and Metro Police Department, and now also includes the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Maryland and the Western District of Virginia, and the Virginia State Police.
Recent Project Guardian cases in Hampton Roads
On July 6, 2020, Green made his initial appearance in federal court on gun charges stemming from his alleged involvement in a January traffic stop that led to the death of Newport News Police Officer Katie Thyne. Green is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana. He is scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow.
In September 2019, Paul Eric Sherrod Parham, a seven-time prior convicted felon, was walking in the area of 36th Street and Chestnut Avenue in Newport News. Parham had outstanding warrants at the time for abduction, larceny, assault and battery, and withholding a credit card belonging to another individual. An individual who knew Parham, and who was aware of Parham’s outstanding warrants, notified Newport News Police of Parham’s precise location. When officers encountered Parham, confirmed his identity and felony status, and began to take him into custody, Parham notified the officers that he was unlawfully carrying a loaded SCCY, CPX-1, 9mm semiautomatic handgun. Parham pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, and he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 4, 2021.
In April 2019, Walker, who is a member of the Suffolk-based criminal street gang “YNGI”, and a fellow gang member, brandished firearms and shot at two rival gang members, who fled to their vehicle and drove away while brandishing rifles. Walker and four other YNGI members got into their own car and gave chase. The two groups shot at each other while driving. The driver of Walker’s car was shot in the chest, which caused him to slam on the gas, speed through an intersection, and crash head-on into another vehicle. Police officers arrived at the accident scene soon after and saw Walker rummaging around the vehicle and an extended 9mm magazine lying on the ground by his feet. This extended magazine was capable of holding more than double the ammunition in a standard handgun clip. The officers also recovered from the wreckage more than 30 grams of heroin and four firearms, including a Masterpiece Arms 9mm handgun. A photo of Walker holding the Masterpiece Arms handgun, loaded with that same extended magazine, was posted on his Instagram account just days earlier. Walker had a prior conviction for felony possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and a lengthy history of participating in gang activity and brandishing firearms at his enemies. Furthermore, Walker was on state probation for the felony when he committed this offense. On September 10, Walker was sentenced to 70 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and his sentence was ordered to be served consecutive to his state sentence for violating probation.
On September 24, a federal jury convicted McGregor, who is an 11-time convicted felon with a long history of committing violent gun crimes in Hampton Roads, on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possessing with intent to distribute cocaine, and one count of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. On Oct. 6, 2017, McGregor was arrested on a warrant in front of his apartment by members of the Norfolk Police Department Fugitive Unit and a Deputy U.S. Marshal. They recovered a loaded Sig Sauer handgun from his waistband. Investigators obtained a search warrant for McGregor’s apartment, where he was staying with his mother, and found in the bedroom closet 18 bags of cocaine, two assault rifles, one of which was loaded and had been reported stolen, four additional large-capacity magazines, dozens of rounds of .45 and 9mm caliber ammunition, and two digital scales. The investigators also recovered from under the bedroom mattress a Sig Saur .45 caliber magazine designed for the gun taken from his waistband, two additional digital scales sitting out in the open on top of a cabinet, and shoes that McGregor had previously photographed himself wearing and had posted on his Facebook page along with multiple photos of himself standing in front of his residence months before the arrest and search. The .45 caliber ammunition from the closet and in the magazine under the mattress matched the brand of the ammunition in the handgun recovered from McGregor. McGregor faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison when sentenced on Feb. 4, 2021.
Redman was a member of a Portsmouth-based cocaine and crack-trafficking conspiracy led by Charles Boomer (who was recently sentenced to sixteen years in federal prison) that was responsible for distributing kilogram amounts of the substances throughout Hampton Roads. Redman was the armed security for Boomer’s drug premises. In September 2018, Redman engaged in a shootout with at least two masked gunmen trying to rob one of Boomer’s drug premises—a residence across the street from a Portsmouth elementary school. Redman shot both gunmen in the legs and thwarted the robbery, while sustaining minor injuries. Police officers arrived at the scene and stopped Boomer, Redman, and another co-conspirator as they were trying to flee in Redman’s girlfriend’s car. During the police encounter, the officers saw that the co-conspirators were sitting on multiple bags of cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, thousands of dollars in cash, and the handgun Redman used to shoot at the masked gunmen. The officers recovered even more drugs and drug-manufacturing materials, as well as dozens of spent shell casings, from inside and in front of the residence. On October 1, Redman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for discharging a firearm in relation to a drug-trafficking crime.
More information on Project Guardian in EDVA can be found here.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.