Federal Jury Convicts Cocke County Man on Firearms and Stolen Vehicle Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 20, 2010|
GREENEVILLE, TN—Following a two-day trial in United States District Court in Greeneville, a jury convicted Larry Donald Gunter, 56 of Parrottsville, Tenn., of possessing a firearm after having been convicted of felonies, possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle which had been transported across state lines.
Sentencing is set for March 21, 2011, at 9:00 a.m., in United States District Court in Greeneville. Gunter faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years to life in prison on the felon in possession of a firearm charge; Gunter faces maximum penalties of 10 years each on the other two counts, with fines of $250,000 on each count.
In July, 2010, a Cocke County Sheriff’s Office detective accompanied by a Newport Police Department officer went to Gunter’s Parrottsville residence in connection with another investigation. After arresting Gunter on an outstanding state warrant, the officers obtained consent to search his trailer. A sawed-off shotgun, loaded with additional rounds of ammunition, was found under the mattress of a bed by the door of the trailer. Gunter had previously been convicted of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, grand larceny, arson, and burglary in Jefferson, Cocke, and Sumner Counties in Tenn. A passenger van which had been stolen the previous evening from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) in N.C., was also found at Gunter’s residence. The van, registered to Youth for Christ, had been used by a youth group from Outdoor Mission Camp, Maggie Valley, N.C., which had gone hiking in the GSMNP. An additional stolen vehicle as well as items from other stolen vehicles were recovered in and around the trailer.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation which led to indictment and subsequent conviction of Gunter included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, Newport Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, National Park Service, and Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Smith represented the United States at trial.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community faces.