GREENSBORO, N.C. – A grand jury sitting in Greensboro, North Carolina last week returned five indictments charging six Richmond County, North Carolina men on charges including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, drug distribution, and Hobbs Act robbery. All six were arrested and had initial court appearances on July 2.
These cases are the most recent resulting from a coordinated effort among federal, state, and local law enforcement intended to reduce violent and gun-related crime in the Richmond County area, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin for the Middle District of North Carolina.
In 2017, security concerns prompted the City of Hamlet, North Carolina, to abruptly cancel its July 4th festivities. News of the 2017 Hamlet July 4th cancellation garnered public attention, and Attorney General Sessions, speaking at a gang conference in Winston-Salem on Aug. 17, 2017, remarked, “I heard recently about Hamlet, North Carolina, where this year’s annual Independence Day celebration was canceled suddenly because of threats of gang violence. This is in a town of about 7,000 people. I certainly respect the decision of the city leaders, but it is infuriating and wrong to me that they had to make it. This is America. We will not be held hostage in our homes by gangsters.”
Since then, a total of 25 defendants from Richmond County, including the six arrested today, have been charged in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, and the federal and local law enforcement coordination continues. “Federal prosecutors and agents have worked diligently with our law enforcement partners in Richmond County to ensure that fear of criminal activity does not control citizens’ enjoyment of their fundamental freedoms on Independence Day or any other day,” said U.S. Attorney Martin, “and we plan to maintain our focus on Richmond County long after the fireworks end. Thank you to Sheriff Clemmons, Chief Waters, Chief Kelly, and the other state and federal agents for their coordination and continuing hard work.”
On June 25, the grand jury returned indictments against six individuals including:
• Quandon Ha’son Wilson, 26, and Devion Marquis Ward, 22, both of Rockingham, North Carolina, were charged with one count of obstructing, delaying, and affecting commerce and the movement of any article and commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion in connection with the robbery of Duncan’s Food Store in Rockingham on Jan. 8. Wilson and Ward are also charged with one count of using, carrying, or possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;
• Quiteraus Dequan Gardner, 22, of Hamlet, North Carolina, was charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm;
• Sajuan Deangelo Leslie, 29, of Rockingham, was charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm;
• Trevon Ibe-Deonte Leslie, 23, of Rockingham, was charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and one count of using, carrying, or possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and
• Hikeem Idrise-Lamar Byrd, 24, of Rockingham, was charged in a four-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In addition to the six individuals indicted this month, 19 others from Richmond County have been charged with drug and firearm offenses in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina since July 2017. Five defendants charged in a methamphetamine conspiracy in July 2017 (Landon Hair, Charles Goodwin, Mark Rosberg, Windell Strickland, and Bryan Smith) were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 60 to 82 months. Kevin Mack was convicted in a separate methamphetamine case and sentenced to 60 months in prison. Walter Little and Everette Smith were both sentenced after being convicted of felon in possession of a firearm. Little was sentenced to 120 months in prison, and Smith was sentenced to 69 months in prison. Three defendants – Justin Beck, Rondell McNair, and Devon Stanback – are fugitives. The remaining defendants are pending trial or sentencing.
The cases indicted this month were investigated by the Hamlet Police Department, Rockingham Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Federal law enforcement officials are also grateful to assistant district attorneys from the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance. The June indictments are being prosecuted by trial attorneys of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Editor’s note: It is the policy of the Richmond Observer to print news release material in its original format, as it was received, with minimal, if any, editorial adjustments.