BOISE – U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced today that, in the past week, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were sentenced in federal district court for firearms offenses and related drug trafficking offenses. These Idaho investigations are all part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, which is a key component of the Department of Justice violent crime reduction strategy.
The following defendants were sentenced within the past week:
· Jeffery Donald Manchester, 36, of Auburn, Washington, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for unlawful possession of a firearm, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Manchester sold a confidential informant an unlawfully‑possessed AK47 style rifle. Manchester possessed the firearm he sold to the confidential informant knowing that he had previously been convicted of several crimes punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. Those convictions included the manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance in King County, Washington, drug trafficking in heroin and unlawful possession of a firearm in Ada County, Idaho, and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and heroin in the Idaho.
· Anthony Erasmo Madrid, Sr., 45, of Nampa, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, for unlawful possession of a firearm, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Madrid sold a Remington 6mm rifle to a confidential informant for $500. Madrid was prohibited from possessing firearms due to a 2019 conviction for burglary. Madrid had previously been convicted of battery on two occasions, domestic battery on two occasions, forgery on two occasions, burglary on two occasions, violation of a no contact order, identity theft, possession of methamphetamine, and grand theft. At the time Madrid unlawfully possessed the firearm, he was under a criminal justice sentence in four separate cases.
· Gary Carl Partee, 39, who was squatting on public land outside of Mountain Home, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for unlawful possession of a firearm, followed by three years of supervised release. On August 4, 2022, Bureau of Land Management served a search warrant on a motorhome that had been illegally parked on public land for several months. At this time, Partee was living in a makeshift tent next to the motorhome, which was broken down. Law enforcement observed a rifle in a parked vehicle that Partee admitted to possessing. Partee also possessed a rattlesnake, which he kept in a box next to the motorhome, that he was ordered to release. Partee was prohibited from possessing firearms due to a 2017 conviction for delivery of a controlled substance. Partee had also previously been convicted of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. In 2016, he was charged with possessing prohibited wild animals for possessing a rattlesnake.
· Spencer Gibson, 32, of Nampa, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for dealing firearms without a license, followed by two years of supervised release. According to court records, between January 2020 and April 21, 2022, Gibson purchased and resold approximately 22 firearms with the principal objective of livelihood and profit. Gibson also sold an AR style rifle to an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Gibson is not a licensed firearms dealer and admitted knowing that his conduct was unlawful. One of the firearms sold by Gibson was transported out of state and used by another person to shoot and kill a police officer.
· Travis Johnson, 50, of Idaho Falls, was sentenced to four months of home detention, followed by three years of probation, and a $55,000.00 fine, for dealing firearms without a license. According to court records, between November 21, 2020, to June 7, 2021, Johnson sold approximately 15 firearms to another individual. Approximately five of those firearms were ordered by that individual and Johnson thereafter purchased and resold them to this customer. Johnson is not a licensed firearms dealer and admitted knowing that his conduct was unlawful. One of the firearms sold by Johnson was recovered in Los Angeles, California, 53 days after purchase, and seized as part of an investigation of criminal activity.
· Thomas Downs, 37, of Blythe, California, was sentenced to 136 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, to be followed by five years of supervised release. According to court records, in April 2022, the Idaho State Police stopped Downs on the interstate for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, troopers located four pounds of methamphetamine and a firearm in the vehicle. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for Downs’s cell phone, which revealed additional evidence of drug trafficking, messages about acquiring firearms, and pictures of firearms. Downs has a criminal history that includes domestic violence and making threats.
In addition, the following defendants pleaded guilty in the past week:
· Shane Michael Bohn, 35, of Lewiston, Idaho, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of firearms. Bohn was initially charged in November of 2022 after officers found multiple firearms at his residence. He was on probation at the time and had previously been convicted of aggravated assault. Bohn was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his prior conviction.
· Matthew Durham, 24, of Lewiston, Idaho, also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of firearms. In December of 2022, Durham was in possession of a shotgun that was ultimately located and seized by officers. At the time Durham possessed the firearm, he had previously been convicted of possession of controlled substances, was on parole, and had an active civil protection order pending.
Bohn and Durham are now scheduled to be sentenced in October of 2023, and each faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
“Reducing violent crime is a top priority for my Office,” said U.S. Attorney Hurwit. “Our law enforcement partners and prosecutors are very effective at identifying and removing from our streets those individuals who pose the greatest risk of violence in our communities. And I am grateful to our state and local partners who support our efforts and help us to better understand the particular issues in their communities. It’s all about maintaining our quality way of life throughout Idaho.”
“In almost every case highlighted here the individual knew that they were not supposed to possess firearms,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “Further, some of these individuals were dealing in firearms illegally, and in one case it led to the murder of a police officer. We will never stop investigating those who are illegally possessing or illegally selling firearms.”
Project Safe Neighborhoods is an evidence-based program which has proven to be effective at reducing violent crime by engaging a broad spectrum of participants in identifying the most pressing violent crime problems in communities and developing comprehensive solutions that reduce crime. As part of this strategy, Project Safe Neighborhoods focuses on strategic enforcement of the most violent offenders and prevention and intervention efforts through community engagement and problem-solving partnerships. In 2021, the Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening Project Safe Neighborhoods based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community‑based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
In addition to the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, U.S. Attorney Hurwit has continued to strengthen programs sponsored by state and local partnerships.
· In Southwestern Idaho, the Treasure Valley Partnership and the State of Idaho hired a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) to address gang crimes. This position, which was created in 2007, has been instrumental in combatting violent crime. The Treasure Valley Partnership is comprised of a group of elected officials in southwest Idaho dedicated to regional coordination, cooperation, and collaboration on creating coherent regional growth. For more information, visit www.treasurevalleypartners.org.
· In Southeastern Idaho, a similar SAUSA position was created in 2016 by the Eastern Idaho Partnership (EIP) and the State of Idaho. The EIP is a coalition of local city and county officials in eastern Idaho.
· In North Idaho, the Nez Perce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has designated one of its Deputy Prosecuting Attorney’s as a SAUSA to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including on the Bohm and Durham cases announced today
These SAUSA programs allow law enforcement to leverage the federal criminal justice system to prosecute, convict, and sentence violent, armed criminals, and drug traffickers. These criminals often receive significant penalties in federal prison that are served outside of Idaho, saving the State of Idaho millions of dollars as measured by what it would cost to prosecute and house these offenders through the state system.
The cases described above were investigated by various law enforcement agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as well as other federal, state, and local partners.