ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

11/23/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/23/2021 21:44

Essex County Felon Admits Possessing Firearm and Ammunition

NEWARK, N.J. - An Essex County man with a prior felony conviction today admitted illegally possessing a loaded handgun and a magazine, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Bilal Ward, 29, of Newark, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Sept. 26, 2020, pursuant to a lawful search of Ward's car in Newark, law enforcement officers recovered a 9mm Taurus handgun, loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition, a magazine loaded with nine rounds of ammunition, and a bag of marijuana. Ward had previously been convicted of a felony and was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for April 7, 2022.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Brian O'Hara; special agents and task force officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark; and special agents and task force officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews, with the investigation leading to today's guilty plea.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey E. Zyriek Enriquez of the Violent Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Francesca Liquori of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit.