Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) San Francisco Field Division

11/18/2020 | Press release | Archived content

Las Vegas Man Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Possession of Firearms After Officers Respond to Domestic Violence Call

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A Las Vegas man with prior felony convictions pleaded guilty today to unlawful possession of firearms, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

'Domestic violence and firearms are too often a deadly combination,' said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. 'One of our office's top priorities in launching Project Veronica was to get guns out of the hands of domestic violence offenders.'

'ATF works diligently to prevent and reduce gun violence,' said Special Agent in Charge Gorman. 'These collective efforts from ATF, the U.S. Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners are aimed at investigating crimes that significantly impact and harm members of the Las Vegas community. ATF will continue to work alongside our partners to ensure those who illegally possess firearms are held accountable.'

Akila Chappell-Hersh, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of felon in possession of a firearm before U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro, who scheduled a sentencing hearing on February 17, 2021. Chappell-Hersh was indicted by a grand jury in May 2020.

According to court documents, in November 2019, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers responded to a domestic violence incident at an apartment in Las Vegas. Officers learned that Chappell-Hersh had been arguing with his wife while holding a handgun. Law enforcement executed a search warrant and found a .40 caliber Sig Sauer P229 handgun under the mattress in a bedroom. Later, on May 7, 2020, Chappell-Hersh was found in possession of a .45 caliber Glock 30S handgun with a 26-round extended magazine.

Chappell-Hersh is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to prior felony convictions in Clark County, Nevada, for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of stolen property.

At sentencing, Chappell-Hersh faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of felon in possession of a firearm. The sentencing of a defendant is determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case was investigated by ATF. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Ruff is prosecuting the case. This case was brought as part of Project Veronica, an initiative that the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada launched in August 2020. Project Veronica brings together law enforcement agencies, tribes, victims of domestic violence, and local and state government within Nevada to curb domestic violence and sexual violence. Project Veronica is named in honor of a local victim of domestic violence named Veronica Caldwell. In 2015, Veronica lost her life at the hands of her husband, who also shot and killed Veronica's daughter Yvonne and her daughter's boyfriend.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice's signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the U.S. Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department's past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the ATF when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.

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