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Ramer man sentenced on federal gun, drug charges in Troy

A Ramer man will serve 111 months in prison after being sentenced Wednesday on federal gun and felony charges in connection with a Troy arrest.

Willis Cogburn, 31, was convicted in June of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Following his prison sentence of just over nine years, he will be subject to five years of supervised release.  There is no parole in the federal system.

The evidence presented at his June 2019 trial showed that in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 8, 2017, Troy Police officers were patrolling the downtown area after responding to a disturbance call.    After the issues with the initial call were cleared, officers began to patrol the area near a bar on Love Street where a crowd had gathered.  There they found Cogburn in a vehicle with his car stereo playing loudly.  When officers approached the car to address the noise issue, they noticed an open container of alcohol in the vehicle and detected the smell of marijuana. 

Upon questioning, Cogburn became uncooperative and confrontational.  Officers asked Cogburn to get out of the vehicle and opened the driver’s door to remove him.  Cogburn then placed the vehicle in reverse and drove backwards for approximately 50 feet before hitting another vehicle and coming to a stop.  A Troy police officer was standing in the car’s doorway and had to cling to the vehicle to avoid being struck by the open door as the car moved backwards.  Luckily, no one was injured.

“This was a very dangerous situation that escalated quickly,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr.  “Our officers did a great job taking this individual into custody and showed great restraint in preventing the situation from escalating any further.  We truly appreciate our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the great work that they do to help us bring these cases to a successful conclusion.  Cogburn’s arrest, conviction and significant sentence should make a strong statement and go a long way in keeping dangerous criminals and drug dealers off of our streets and out of our community.”

Once Cogburn was removed from the vehicle, officers searched the car and found a significant amount of marijuana, digital scales, and a .38 caliber revolver.  Small amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine were also discovered.  Having previously been convicted of a felony, Cogburn was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

“Unfortunately, carrying guns and selling drugs are synonymous,” stated U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr.  “Firearms are used by dealers to protect their drugs and money, with no regard to the danger it presents to our communities or law enforcement.  I am thankful for the work of the Troy Police Department and the ATF in this case, and I am grateful that no officers were injured despite the reckless behavior of the defendant.”     

The case was investigated by the Troy Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), with assistance from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.  Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Wendell and Robert Nichols prosecuted the case.