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BREAKING News Out Of SOUTH CAROLINA

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Lancaster Resident Sentence to 10 Years in Federal Prison After Being Found In Possession of Firearms Stolen from National Guard Armory

Columbia, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Brandon Shane Polston, age 33, of Lancaster, South Carolina, was sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty in July to being a felon in possession of firearms and to possession of machineguns and destructive device not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs of Columbia sentenced Polston to the statutory maximum sentence of 120 months (10 years) imprisonment with 3 years of supervised release to follow.

Polston’s co-defendants—Austin Lee Ritter, age 23, and Kimberly Denise Cannon, age 40, both of Lancaster—were sentenced in late November after pleading guilty in June. Both pled guilty to the same charges as Polston. Ritter was sentenced to 87 months imprisonment with 3 years of supervised release to follow. Cannon was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment with 3 years of supervised release to follow.

Evidence presented in court hearings established that during the early morning hours of November 26, 2017, an officer with the Lancaster Police Department conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by Cannon after observing her littering. Further investigation during the traffic stop revealed the following inside the vehicle:  a FNH, model M249, 5.56mm machinegun; two (2) Colt, model M-16, 5.56mm machineguns; two (2) Beretta, model M9, 9mm pistols; a Colt, model M203, 40mm grenade launcher (“destructive device”); night vision goggles; and various military items stolen from the Lancaster National Guard Armory.

After the traffic stop, Polston and Ritter were located at a Lancaster motel and found in possession of a small quantity of methamphetamine. A review of surveillance video from the motel showed Polston, Ritter, and Cannon bringing the bags containing the firearms back and forth between the vehicle and the motel room. Searches of their cell phones revealed various photos and text messages relating to the firearms and sale of the firearms.

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During the investigation, Polston admitted that on Thanksgiving Day, he jumped the fence of the Armory, where he found the building unsecured and no one present. The investigation has not uncovered any plan by any other person to assist Polston in the theft. Polston stole the firearms and other items and hid them in nearby woods.

Thereafter, Polston traded one 9mm handgun to a male in exchange for heroin, which he provided to a friend. Polston also sold two of the M-16s to two males in Lancaster in exchange for money, cocaine, and marijuana. Thereafter, Polston had Cannon drive him and Ritter back to the wooded area to retrieve the remaining firearms and other items. The group also traveled to the Rock Hill area, where Polston gave an M-16 to a female and received methamphetamine from her. The investigation revealed that while some of the stolen firearms were later recovered in possession of other felons, other firearms remain missing.

Polston and his co-defendants Ritter and Cannon are all prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon their prior state convictions. Polston has prior state convictions for breaking into autos (2 counts), malicious injury to person property over $2,000, but less than $10,000, assault and battery 1st degree, burglary 2nd degree (2 counts), receiving stolen goods over $2,000 but less than $10,000, and property offense 3rd or subsequent. Polston was released from the South Carolina Department of Corrections in February 2017.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Lancaster Police Department, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is South Carolina’s implementation 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.

SOURCE- THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ)

U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina

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