St. Pauls man gets prison on gun charges

Staff report

NEW BERN — A St. Pauls man was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to seven years, 11 months in prison.

Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced William Charlie Collins, 32, after he pleaded guilty on Sept. 13 to two counts of felon in possession of a firearm, according to information from Robert J. Higdon Jr., United States attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Collins’ jail time will be followed by three years of supervised release.

On Feb. 28, 2017, a St. Pauls police officer saw Collins place a handgun in the trunk of a vehicle, according to Higdon. The officer approached the vehicle’s owner and obtained consent to search. A search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun containing nine rounds of ammunition in a 15-round magazine.

When interviewed by law enforcement, Collins admitted to possessing the firearm and was released. Later that day, law enforcement became aware of a breaking and entering that occurred at a St. Pauls residence during which two firearms were stolen. Investigators determined the stolen 9 mm semiautomatic handgun was the same handgun found in Collins’ possession. Also stolen from the residence was a .22-250 caliber rifle that was recovered at Collins’ girlfriend’s residence.

Staff report

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