Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return by a grand jury of an indictment charging Vershaun Lamar Puzie (32, Jacksonville) with two counts of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. If convicted, Puzie faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, and up to life, in federal prison on each count. The indictment also notifies Puzie that the United States intends to forfeit two Smith & Wesson pistols, which are alleged to have been used in the offenses.
According to the indictment, Puzie possessed a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol on January 1, 2019, after being convicted of eight felonies. The indictment also alleges that Puzie possessed a Smith & Wesson 9mm caliber pistol on July 16, 2020, after being convicted of ten felonies. Because Puzie had been convicted of selling drugs on three separate occasions prior to allegedly possessing each of the firearms, he faces enhanced mandatory minimum sentences.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor and Special Assistant United States Attorney Cyrus Zomorodian.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’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 and enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. For more information on Project Guardian visit www.justice.gov/projectguardian.