(STL.News) – Marquis Howard McNeely, 38, of Meridian, pled guilty today before U.S. Chief District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III to two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Kurt Thielhorn, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

On July 24, 2019, at approximately 4:00 a.m., a Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office deputy was on patrol on Highway 19 when the deputy encountered McNeely parked in the wrong lane of traffic.  He was found to be intoxicated and he was placed under arrest.  A search of McNeely’s vehicle found a stolen pistol.  McNeely was charged and released on bond.

On October 8, 2019 McNeely drove up to a traffic safety checkpoint being conducted by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office at the intersection of State Boulevard and Chandler Road.  A deputy approached McNeely’s car and immediately saw that McNeely had an assault rifle style pistol held between his right knee and the center console.  McNeely was again arrested and charged.

McNeely was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 19, 2019 for being a previously convicted felon in possession of firearms. McNeely has prior felony convictions for felony DUI, aggravated assault and manslaughter.  He is currently in custody and will be sentenced on November 20, 2020 by Judge Jordan.  He faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines on each count.

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles W. Kirkham.

This case is part of Project EJECT, an initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Project Guardian.  EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness.  EJECT stands for “Empower Justice Expel Crime Together.”  PSN is bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighbor hoods safer for everyone.  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.

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