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Cherokee County domestic violence offender sentenced for possessing firearm

Eastern District of Texas
Federal trials began again in January at the federal courthouse in Sherman.

A 53-year-old Rusk man has been sentenced to prison for a federal firearms violation in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting United States Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei at the beginning of February.

Larry Van Butcher, a.k.a. “Red,” pleaded guilty on Oct. 29, 2020, to being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle today.  

“Domestic violence offenses represent a significant public safety concern in our communities, and, in the most tragic circumstances, result in a pattern of abuse and escalating violence,” said Acting United States Attorney Nicholas Ganjei.  “Restricting domestic violence offenders from possessing the tools to perpetrate similar or more severe crimes is a priority for the Department of Justice.”            

According to information presented in court, on Nov. 5, 2019, Butcher was interviewed by law enforcement about illegal drug and firearms activities occurring at his residence.  After confessing to using methamphetamine and marijuana as well as possessing numerous firearms, Butcher admitted that he had been previously convicted in Cherokee County, Texas, for the misdemeanor offense of Assault Family Violence, which is a crime of domestic violence resulting in a federal prohibition on possessing firearms.  Butcher advised that he knew he was prohibited from possessing firearms and could not purchase firearms for himself.  Law enforcement officers then traveled to Butcher’s residence and seized 20 firearms, including two that had been reported stolen.  Butcher was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 18, 2020, and charged with federal firearms violations. 

This case is a part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.  Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce un violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 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.  The United States Attorney’s Office has prosecuted this case with support from the following Project Guardian partners: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Smith County Sheriff’s Office; and the Tyler Police Department.  This case was investigated by and is prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lucas Machicek.