A felon who threw a pistol and bag of drugs on the floorboard of his driver’s feet after a traffic stop is headed to prison for more than six years.
James Eustice, 38, of Gulfport pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge in U.S. District Court. U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced him Wednesday to six years and two months in prison and fined him $5,000. The judge also ordered Eustice to serve three years under post-release supervision.
A forfeiture order also called for the seizure of a 9mm pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun.
Eustice was indicted on the federal charge a short time after Gulfport police arrested Eustice and his driver, Steven Ray Stone, on state drug and firearms violations in August.
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Stone, 51, was driving when police stopped them on 19th Avenue. As an officer walked up to the car, he noticed Stone was nervous and Eustice was leaning over toward the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
Police found a pistol and a bag on the floorboard of the driver’s seat and found a firearm with a grip in the backseat. The bag contained 20 grams of suspected meth, cash and assorted prescription drugs, including prescription painkillers.
The driver told police, according to an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, that Eustice had thrown the items on the floorboard in front of the driver’s seat. Stone said he didn’t know about anything other than a firearm he allowed Eustice to put in his back seat.
Stone is also a felon with a pending drug charge.
Eustice initially denied knowing about the items found in the vehicle.
He later confessed he had used the weapon the night before to shoot an animal and had arranged the sale of the firearm.
Eustice, an admitted drug user, was on probation and under supervision through the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He was convicted of a drug charge stemming from a 2008 arrest in Gulfport.