PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that William Johnson, 35, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and five years of supervised release by United States District Judge Harvey Bartle III for his conviction of being a felon illegally in possession of a firearm.
In September 2020, the defendant was convicted after trial of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charge stemmed from an incident that occurred a year earlier in September 2019. Philadelphia Police Department Highway Patrol Officers responded to reports of a person with a gun at 15th Street and West Allegheny Avenue in North Philadelphia. Upon arrival, the officers observed Johnson walking with a person that matched the description in the report. When the officers got out of their car to investigate, Johnson took off in a full sprint while holding onto his waistband. He then cut through an empty lot and climbed a fence in an attempt to flee. An officer drove around to where Johnson would be expected to emerge on the other side of the lot. When Johnson climbed the fence that led away from the lot, he spotted yet another police officer. The defendant then jumped down from the fence and an officer observed him toss a firearm a few feet away. The officers took Johnson into custody and secured the firearm.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes very seriously the staggering homicide and violent crime rates in Philadelphia, and we’re doing all we can to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of convicted felons,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “If you are convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, you will go to prison for a very long time. As punishment for his illegal gun possession, William Johnson will now lose fifteen years of freedom. He went to prison in his mid-thirties, and he won’t get out until he is nearly fifty. Don’t take that risk: don’t carry illegally.”
“The disturbing level of gun violence in Philadelphia is undeniably exacerbated by the abundance of the illegal firearms on the street,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “The FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department are working together to battle that tide, and whether it’s through takedowns of violent gun-toting gangs or, one by one, arresting felons like Mr. Johnson in criminal possession of a firearm, we will continue to do all we can to make this city safer.”
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. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting 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.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Eckert.