WASHINGTON – James Hutchings Jr, 41, of Waldorf, Maryland(May 2022), has been found guilty by a jury in the District of Columbia of a federal conspiracy charge for his role as the middleman in an illegal transfer of weapons involving people prohibited from possessing firearms.
The verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Hutchings was found guilty yesterday following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The Honorable Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell scheduled sentencing for Aug. 9, 2022.
In 2018, the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force began investigating an individual named Linwood Douglas Thorne, as a major heroin supplier. On Dec. 19, 2018, the FBI and ATF executed simultaneous search warrants on Thorne’s Maryland business and residence in the District of Columbia, finding 44 kilograms of heroin laced with fentanyl; 55 pounds of marijuana; five firearms; and significant drug paraphernalia.
In addition to the search warrants, the task force’s investigation—which began in July of 2018—led to the recovery of eight additional firearms, approximately 1.5 additional kilograms of marijuana, 260 additional grams of heroin, and several firearms magazines and accessories.
The ATF conducted a parallel investigation into three of the firearms found at Thorne’s residence and discovered that the firearms were purchased by a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army named Kofi Appiah. After additional investigation, including the discovery of multiple digital devices, law enforcement identified Hutchings as the middleman who facilitated the transfer of the firearms from Georgia to the District of Columbia. Both Hutchings and Thorne were prohibited persons based on their prior convictions, and thus, were ineligible to possess firearms.
During the trial, the government presented multiple law enforcement witnesses, along with digital and business records establishing and corroborating the defendant’s guilt. With this conviction, the defendant faces up to five years of imprisonment. He is currently on supervised probation out of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Appiah pleaded guilty in September 2020 and was later sentenced to 37 months in prison. Thorne, 50, was found guilty in March 2022 of multiple counts and is awaiting sentencing.
In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Graves, Special Agent in Charge Jacobs, and Special Agent in Charge Patterson commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI and ATF, as well as those from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) who were on the Safe Streets Task Force. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by joint law enforcement and prosecution partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who prosecuted the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon Regan, Samuel Frey, and Gregory Rosen, as well as Paralegal Specialist Alexis Spencer-Anderson of the Federal Major Crimes Section.