Two men from Aiken were sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Columbia on gun charges.
United States Attorney Bill N. Nettles stated Wednesday that Jesse James Quarles, 34, and Kenneth Islar, 29, were sentenced in federal court in Columbia, each on charges of felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).
Quarles, classified as an Armed Career Criminal based on his extensive criminal history, was subject to a statutory mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 180 months. The Court sentenced Islar to 75 months in prison.
Quarles and Islar were indicted in July 2014 by a federal grand jury in separate indictments and entered guilty pleas in October. As to Quarles, evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing revealed that Quarles possessed a 9mm pistol while at a residence in Aiken County in April 2013. As to Islar, on May 30, 2014, he possessed and discharged a .380 caliber pistol in the Bi-Lo parking lot in Aiken. District Judge J. Michelle Childs of Columbia accepted the guilty pleas and sentenced both defendants Quarles and Islar previously waived their right to a detention hearing in October and remain in custody.
Prior to the federal firearms prosecution, Quarles and Islar were selected to participate in the Aiken Safe Communities. Launched in early 2013, the Aiken Safe Communities Initiative is a unified, proactive community approach to engage, educate, and encourage recurring offenders to change their behavior and make healthy life choices. The initiative also bands together local, state, and federal law enforcement to expedite the investigation and prosecution of individuals who reoffend in lieu of accepting opportunities and assistance offered by the community during public notification meetings held in Aiken several times a year. The next Safe Communities Offender Notification meeting will be held at 6pm on Thursday, May 14, 2015, at Aiken City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.
From 2012-2013, the city of Aiken experienced an 86% reduction in murders. Earlier this year, the South Carolina Community Development Association presented the city of Aiken with its 2014 Award of Excellence, recognizing community development efforts that have significantly improved the quality of life in the community.
Both cases were investigated by the ATF Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement (RAGE) Unit, a joint gang/violent crime task force with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office (Aiken, Bamberg, and Barnwell counties), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. These prosecutions as well as the United States Attorney’s Office ongoing commitment to the Aiken Safe Communities Initiative are part of Operation CeaseFire, which is a joint local, state, and federal initiative which seeks to prosecute aggressively individuals who unlawfully use, possess, or transfer firearms.
Both cases are assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Lance Crick, of the Greenville, South Carolina office.