Harnett County Trio Sentenced On Federal Firearms Charges

This week, federal authorities announced the convictions and sentencing of three people from Harnett County on weapons charges. 

United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced Jessica Pate, 26, of Dunn to 18 months imprisonment, followed by 2 years of supervised release.  Pate was named in a Superseding Indictment filed on March 13, 2019 charging her with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.  On June 17, 2019, Pate entered a guilty plea to that charge.

The Superseding Indictment also charged Codie Evan Koerner, 26, of Erwin and Jeffrey Cleo Williams, 28, of Coats, with possession of firearm by a felon. On May 2, 2019, both Koerner and Williams pled guilty to the federal charge. On August 6, 2019, Williams was sentenced to 96 months imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release. On September 9, 2019, Koerner was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release.

According to the investigation, on July 5, 2018, Koerner, Williams, Pate, and a fourth person conspired to break into a residence in Harnett County where they stole seven firearms as well as additional personal property. Later that same evening the Dunn Police Department responded to a report involving an individual, later determined to be Koerner, pointing a firearm and threatening a person at a hotel. The victim spoke with officers, and stated that Pate and the victim were arguing when Koerner pointed a gun at her and ordered her to leave.

During the course of the Dunn Police investigation, officers located in Koerner’s vehicle an AR-15 rifle, two .22 caliber rifles, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .22 caliber handgun that were stolen during the earlier residential burglary.  In a hotel room, officers also recovered a 9mm gun with an obliterated serial number in Pate’s bag along with other personal property from the residence. Inside Williams’ bag, officers recovered a .22 caliber handgun.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives learned through the course of their investigation that after the residential burglary, the defendants traded one of the stolen firearms for the 9mm handgun that officers recovered from Pates’ bag. Both Koerner and Williams were convicted felons. Koerner’s felony convictions included state convictions for possession of firearm by a felon, felony breaking and entering, and possession of a stolen firearm. Williams’ felony convictions included state convictions for possession of a stolen motor vehicle and possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver methamphetamine.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in those communities on a sustained basis to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Harnett County Sheriff’s Office, and Dunn Police Department conducted the investigation in this matter.  Assistant United States Attorney Tom Crosby represented the government.