YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The attorney for a man expected to be sentenced next week in federal court on gun and drug charges said in a sentencing memorandum the guns found in his home when a search warrant was served have nothing to do with his drug-trafficking activities.
Frederick Southerland, 62, is expected to be sentenced June 21 by U.S. Judge J. Philip Calabrese in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio to two counts of distribution of cocaine and a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Southerland pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 22.
He was expected to be sentenced Tuesday, but the sentencing was pushed back to June 21 because one of the attorneys in the case is ill, court records show.
Southerland was indicted Sept. 30, the result of a search warrant Dec. 23, 2020, at his home by the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force which was following up on a tip that Southerland was selling drugs from an undisclosed address.
The search warrant was served after investigators did three controlled buys of drugs from the house, according to the sentencing memorandum of Southerland’s attorney, J. Gerald Ingram.
During the search, investigators found cocaine as well as a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol and a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Southerland is not allowed to have or be around a firearm because of convictions in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in 1993 in two separate robbery cases.
Ingram is objecting to a recommendation by prosecutors that the sentence guidelines in the case should be greater because prosecutors claim the guns were possessed in relation to another felony, in this case, the drug charges to which Southerland pleaded guilty.
Ingram said his client admits to selling cocaine and having it in his home and also admits that he knew the guns were in his home, however, the guns were not part of his drug business but were being stored in the home by his son.
The guns were purchased legally and in the name of Southerland’s son and were found in boxes in the basement, unloaded, in a duffel bag. The drugs that were found during the search were found in the kitchen on the first floor, far away from the guns and not easily accessible, Ingram wrote.
Southerland is requesting that the enhancement be rejected by the judge and that he be sentenced to eight to 14 months in prison, Ingram wrote.