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Charleston felon guilty of possessing firearm in murder plot

WOWK Charleston logo WOWK Charleston 3/2/2022 Amanda Barber
Charleston felon guilty of possessing firearm in murder plot © Provided by WOWK Charleston Charleston felon guilty of possessing firearm in murder plot

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The U.S. Department of Justice stated James Edward Bennett III, of Charleston, pleaded guilty to a federal gun crime related to an alleged murder plot.

Bennett admitted in court that he possessed a 9mm pistol and .223 with a drum magazine. Bennett was already prohibited from having firearms because he is a felon.

According to court documents and statements, the FBI was conducting a wiretap investigation of multi-state methamphetamine distribution in the Charleston area. Intercepted calls alerted agents that Bennett and allegedly three others planned to murder a man on the West Side.

Surveillance confirmed Bennett and the alleged other subjects armed themselves and drove in a rented SUV from Rand to the West Side.

The Charleston Police Department sent multiple marked vehicles to create a highly known presence.

The SUV’s driver allegedly parked at the West Side Kroger fuel station, but Bennett and the other subjects allegedly exited the vehicle and left the area upon seeing law enforcement.

In the vehicle, the FBI found four loaded pistols and a .223 caliber pistol modified to look like an “AR-style” firearm.

Bennett pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison during sentencing on May 23, 2022.

Agencies involved in the investigation included the FBI, CPD, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department and Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT).

"The quick response of our law enforcement partners prevented a shooting on Charleston's West Side," said United States Attorney Will Thompson. "Public safety is always at risk when felons possess firearms, especially when they have a history of violent crime convictions. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the FBI, the Charleston Police Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and MDENT, we will continue to thwart violent crimes in our communities."

Two other alleged subjects, Brian Dangelo Terry, 37, and Douglas Johnathan Wesley, 33, are scheduled for later trials. Terry faces trial on March 14, and Wesley faces trial on May 3.

The DOJ did not identify or reveal a sentencing date for the third subject in addition to Bennett.

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