A car salesman and a repo man at a D’Iberville car dealership have avoided prison in a federal investigation of the use of marijuana and gun ownership.
Salesman Steven Lamont McKinney, 46, and repo worker Otis Kinta Pittman, 37, each received a $5,000 fine at sentencing hearings on Wednesday. They also received probation and house arrest.
Both men have admitted they smoked marijuana and had guns for protection because their jobs could be dangerous, court documents show.
Federal law prohibits users and addicts of illegal drugs from buying or having a firearm.
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The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics arrested both men March 4, 2015, on drug distribution charges after an overnight search of their home. Federal agents later picked up the case over the issue of guns and the use of an illegal drug.
The men had worked for Holmes Motors for six or more years and were exemplary employees, the owner and managers told U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden in letters filed in court records.
Pittman recalled being threatened by angry customers, including one who held an AR-15 on him and some co-workers, he told the judge in a letter. A month after that, Holmes Motors called police to be on standby, he said. A customer had called to say she was coming to the dealership with a gun.
One of the dealership’s repo men had been shot at while driving away with a vehicle in March 2015, one manager wrote. It happened days after the search of Pittman’s home. Bullets struck the truck the repo man was driving.
MBN agents had suspected drug trafficking at Pittman’s home in the Pine Hills subdivision in Gulfport. People were coming and going from the house and not staying long, a document said.
McKinney and another person were living with Pittman at the time.
Agents went through a trash can at the edge of the street and said they found part of a marijuana cigarette and some marijuana residue.
Agents broke down the front door of the home and said they found 38 grams of marijuana, two marijuana cigarettes, 14 firearms and ammunition.
The pot belonged to Pittman as did some of the guns, records show, while six of the firearms and 773 rounds of ammo belonged to McKinney.
A federal grand jury indicted them March 21. The men have remained free on bond.
Ozerden on Wednesday also sentenced Pittman to five years of probation and nine months of home confinement for failing to admit he was “an unlawful user” of a drug on a gun application. He made a false statement when he filled out his form at Dad’s Super Pawn in Gulfport on Aug. 24, 2013.
Ozerden also sentenced McKinney to four years of probation and six months of home confinement for being an unlawful user of a drug found in possession of a firearm. He had a firearm in his vehicle when agents searched Pittman’s home.
The men were sentenced the day before Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era policy that allowed the legalization of marijuana to flourish in some states. Sessions will now let federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide on how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws, The Associated Press reported.