12/17/2018
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NEW BERN – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced Joseph Luther Lewis, 29, of Fayetteville, North Carolina to 151 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Lewis was named in an Indictment filed on December 20, 2017. On May 15, 2018, Lewis pleaded guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Felon and Possession of a Stolen Firearm.

On June 25, 2017, the Fayetteville Police Department (FPD) responded to a domestic violence call placed by Lewis’ girlfriend at the time. She stated Lewis lost $1,000 gambling, and for some inexplicable reason, Lewis blamed her for his loss. As a result, Lewis, armed with a handgun, traveled from Fayetteville to Robeson County and forcibly abducted her, and took her to a vacant house in Fayetteville, where Lewis planned to prostitute her to recoup his money.

During his girlfriends’ abduction, and while driving through Robeson County, she jumped from Lewis’ moving vehicle in an effort to flee from Lewis. Nevertheless, Lewis turned his vehicle around, pointed his gun at her, and forced her back inside his vehicle. Once they arrived in Fayetteville, Lewis kicked and punched her in the face several times.

When the FPD arrived at the vacant residence, her face was visibly swollen. She had a chipped tooth and scrapes on her nose and mouth, as well as abrasions to her feet, legs, and arms. She stated that prior to the FPD’s arrival, Lewis threatened to hit her with his handgun. As law enforcement approached the vacant residence, Lewis threw his gun in a wooded area. Lewis was taken into custody without incident. A search of Lewis’ vehicle revealed multiple gunshot holes in the rear and front of his vehicle. His girlfriend stated Lewis was involved in a gunfight with another drug dealer early that day in Fayetteville. Lewis’ firearm, a stolen 9mm handgun, was subsequently located in the woods where she observed him discard it.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

In support of PSN, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina has implemented the Take Back North Carolina Initiative. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

The Fayetteville Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives conducted the criminal investigation of this case. Assistant United States Attorney James J. Kurosad handled the prosecution of this case for the government.

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