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North Carolina man sentenced to prison for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon

Tauheed Rochelle of Raleigh was sentenced May 13 to 58 months in prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. Rochelle pleaded guilty to the charge December 21, 2020.  At the time of his arrest, Rochelle was on state probation for two felony drug offenses.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on December 5, 2019, Raleigh Police Department officers responded to a suspicious vehicle call on Tamarino Drive in Raleigh, a location where multiple recent breaking and entering crimes had been reported. “As the officers approached, they recognized the car as a Dodge Charger belonging to Rochelle, who they were familiar with from prior encounters,” stated the release. “As the officers walked to the car, they smelled marijuana and saw Rochelle throw marijuana from the driver’s side window. Officers instructed Rochelle to place his hands on the steering wheel and noticed a large bag of marijuana at the Defendant’s feet, as well as marijuana crumbs on his lap. When asked whether there was a gun in the car, Rochelle responded, ‘I don’t know.’”

Officers searched the car and in Rochelle’s driver’s seat, they saw that he had been sitting on a black sweat suit jacket that matched the pants he was wearing, according to the release. The right pocket was pushed between the seat and center console. “In that pocket, officers found a .40 caliber handgun,” stated the release. “Officers also recovered two digital scales, a marijuana blunt, and in the trunk, a large packaging envelope with marijuana residue.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. “Since 2017, the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime,” stated the release.

The effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and district attorney’s offices in those communities on a sustained basis to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking and crimes against law enforcement, the release continued.

G. Norman Acker III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Raleigh Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted.

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