NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Newport News man pleaded
guilty today to being a previously convicted felon in possession of a
firearm and felony possession of marijuana. Both charges stem from the
defendant’s alleged involvement in a January traffic stop that led to
the death of Newport News Police Officer Katie Thyne.
According to court documents and statements made
in court, on January 23, Vernon Evander Green II, 38, encountered
Newport News Police at the Monitor Merrimac Overlook. Police responded
to the area after reports of a vehicle with two occupants who appeared
to be smoking marijuana. The officers found Green in the driver’s seat
and asked him to exit the vehicle. He failed to comply with the
officers’ requests and instead fled the scene.
A later search of the vehicle resulted in the
recovery of marijuana in different places of the vehicle. Officers found
a soft cooler bag near Green’s vehicle that had the word “BrightView”
written on the front. The bag contained Green’s picture and a Kel-Tec
CNC Industries firearm with Green’s fingerprint on the magazine. The
BrightView cooler bag had been in the defendant’s vehicle during the
encounter with the Newport News police officers at the Monitor Merrimac
Overlook. The defendant admitted he had previously been convicted of a
felony and was not allowed to possess a firearm.
Green pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a
firearm and possession of marijuana, a felony due to Green’s prior
felony drug conviction. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison
when sentenced on Feb. 18, 2021. Actual sentences for federal crimes
are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court
judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the
Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and
enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the
fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past
successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of
federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and
prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual
attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant
Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate
actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental
health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the
criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of Virginia; Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge
of the ATF’s Washington Field Division; and Steve R. Drew, Chief of
Newport News Police, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge
Lawrence R. Leonard accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick and Lisa R. McKeel are prosecuting the case.