|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - October 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Two men plead guilty to weapons charges
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – A father and son from Trinity are awaiting sentencing after entering guilty pleas to federal firearm violations in Beaumont. Steven Daniel Middleton, 28, and his father, Larry Don Middleton, 56, each pled guilty on Sept. 17 to being felons in possession of firearms before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. The sentencing date has not yet been set. The maximum punishment for the crime is up to 10 years in federal prison, according to U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. Bales noted that Steven Middleton had been convicted in 2004 of manufacture of a controlled substance while Larry Middleton was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in 1991, possession of marijuana in 1981 and delivery of marijuana in 1981. Under federal law, convicted felons are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition. Both men were indicted by a federal grand jury serving the Eastern District of Texas on June 2, 2010. According to Trinity County Narcotics Investigator Paul Shipper, the case against the two men began on March 19, 2009, when officers from both the Trinity and Walker county sheriff’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety executed a search warrant at Larry Middleton’s residence on Bette Street in Trinity. “The warrant was the result of a two-month long investigation involving the possible sale of drugs from that residence,” Shipper said. The investigator said information indicated both methamphetamines and prescription pills were being sold at the location. Officers arrived at the home to serve the search warrant at about 6:45 a.m. and subsequently located and seized 16 rifles and shotguns that were found in the bedrooms of the father and son. Investigators also found various items of narcotics paraphernalia, night vision goggles, a large quantity of surveillance equipment, methamphetamine residue and $15,733.16 in cash. Shipper said the surveillance equipment monitors were set up in Steven Middleton’s bedroom, apparently to allow him to detect anyone approaching the home. While a portion of the cash found in the home was subsequently returned, Shipper said police seized $9,733.16, which was divided between the Trinity County and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which investigated the case at the federal level. Shipper said while officers were at the Middleton residence, they received information that another suspect was on the way with a delivery of methamphetamines. “The vehicle was intercepted by a DPS trooper and the driver, Stephan Leos was arrested and charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance,” Shipper said. Several ounces of methamphetamines were recovered in that arrest and the charges against Leos are still pending in a Trinity County district court. At the time of the search of the residence, Larry Middleton was not arrested and Steven Middleton was taken into custody on a parole violation warrant issued by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Officers subsequently notified the ATF about the guns seized in the raid and the criminal history of the two men. ATF agents arrested them earlier this year after the federal grant jury returned the indictments against the men. The case was prosecuted in federal court as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. The project is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence; deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor; and improving the safety of residents of the Eastern District of Texas, Bales said. Federal prosecutors working on the case were Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall L. Fluke and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.