Four defendants indicted in separate Columbus-area criminal cases were sentenced to prison this week for crimes related to the illegal possession of firearms by a convicted felon, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
On Tuesday, July 21, U.S. District Judge Clay Land sentenced Truman Bentley, 38, of Columbus, to 70 months in prison followed by three years supervised release after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; Cordello Brown, 32, of Columbus, was sentenced to 78 months in prison followed by three years supervised release after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; On Thursday, July 23, Judge Land sentenced Christopher Russell, 49, of Columbus, to 27 months in prison followed by three years supervised release after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; Kenneth Shults, 29, of Columbus, was sentenced to 92 months in prison followed by three years supervised release after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. There is no parole in the federal system.
“We are working closely with our law enforcement partners in Columbus, and across the Middle District of Georgia, to identify criminal gun cases that warrant federal prosecution, where the punishment is federal prison time, without parole,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Project Safe Neighborhoods is the Justice Department’s common sense initiative to curb violence. PSN Task Forces are operating in Columbus and other communities in the Middle District of Georgia to create and implement strategies to reduce violent crime and build safer communities. Reducing violent crime is paramount; our office will use all of the resources in our power to reach this shared goal.”
The investigation was conducted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
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; 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. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
The cases were investigated by the Columbus Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).