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Judge explains sentencing of Youngstown man in gun case

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The defendant has had six prior convictions for having a gun, the first when he was 14

Edward Lightning, arrested on federal weapons charges

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man sentenced to 10 years in federal prison last month on a gun charge had his first gun charge when he was only 14, a judge said.

Judge John R. Adams, who handed down the Oct. 8 sentence to Edward Lightning, 36, wrote in a sentencing memorandum that was posted Tuesday on the website for the U.S. Northern District Court Of Ohio that Lightning has six previous gun charges, including one in 2013 for which he served a federal prison sentence of 55 months.

The memorandum, which is common in the federal court system, gives a glimpse of the record of the defendant and the judge’s reasoning for the sentence he handed down. The sentence Lightning received is the maximum sentence that can be handed down under federal law.

Lightning was arrested by city police for a Sept. 21, 2018 foot and car chase on the East Side after police tried to pull him over for a traffic violation. He was caught on South Garland Avenue.

Reports said police found a 9mm handgun, which was reported stolen from Columbiana County, and seven bags of crack cocaine. Lightning received a sentence from Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for that arrest. His federal sentence is running concurrent to that charge.

When Lightning was arrested on a federal warrant on Dec. 11, authorities found 17 counterfeit $100 bills and a loaded 9mm semiautomatic handgun, reports said. The charge Lightning was sentenced on by Judge Adams stemmed from that arrest.

In 1998, when Lightning was 14, he was charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle.

In 2001, he was sentenced to a year of probation at 18 for carrying a concealed weapon and less than a year later, he was given a five year prison sentence on a conviction of burglary with a firearm specification.

In 2008, he was sentenced to four years in prison on an escape charge.

He was released from prison on March 22, 2012 and just 39 days later picked up another firearm charge. Four months later, he received another firearm charge. It was these two charges for which he was given the 55-month prison sentence.

In July of 2012, Lightning sold a .45-caliber handgun to an undercover agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the judge wrote, for which Lightning was paid $300.

Lightning had another handgun with him but told the agent, “This is my baby. I doubt I’ll ever sell this.”

The judge wrote that Lightning told the agent he had three SKS 7.62mm assault rifles and one of them had a drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds.

The memorandum is not clear if the first federal sentence Lightning served came from this undercover operation.

The judge wrote that a 10-year sentence was necessary, given Lightning’s history around guns and the fact that he often committed other crimes while he had a gun.

Besides the September 2018 arrest in Youngstown for having a gun, Lightning was also indicted in Stark County on a weapons offense, the judge wrote.

“Given the conduct of the underlying offense, coupled with Lightning’s criminal history, it is clear to this court that Lightning is undeterred from not only possession firearms but possessing firearms while under court supervision, firing the firearms he possess, possessing drugs along with firearms, possessing counterfeit money along with firearms and fleeing from law enforcement while possessing firearms. It is clear that Lightning will not stop engaging in unlawful behavior that puts himself and the general public at risk.”

When Lightning is at the end of his federal sentence, he will be 46 and will have spent over half his life in prison, including time he spent as a juvenile.

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