Defendants Receive Sentences on Drug Trafficking and Firearms Charges

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2022

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that three defendants were sentenced in U.S. District Court yesterday for drug trafficking and firearms violations.

Christopher Antrell Bernard, 43, of Shreveport, was sentenced by United States District Judge Donald E. Walter to 262 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. In addition, Bernard was found guilty of violating his probation and was sentenced to an additional 37 months in prison.  Bernard’s total sentence today was 299 months (24 years, 11 months) in prison.

On May 6, 2020, officers with the Shreveport Police Department initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle being driven by Bernard and he was the sole occupant of the vehicle. As he exited the vehicle, officers observed a handgun in plain view between the console and driver’s seat. Officers searched Bernard’s vehicle and found individual baggies containing approximately 76 grams of marijuana and a scale. The firearm which was in plain view was found to be a loaded 9mm pistol. At the time of Bernard’s arrest, he was on supervised release after receiving an Executive Grant of Clemency signed by President Barack Obama on January 19, 2017 commuting his sentence. Bernard was previously sentenced in federal court on March 31, 2009 to 240 months in prison for distribution of cocaine.

The case was investigated by the ATF and Shreveport Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert F. Moody.

In a separate case, Chief United States District Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. sentenced Bennie Sylvester Epps, 32, of Zwolle, Louisiana, to 66 months (5 years, 6 months) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Epps pleaded guilty on December 14, 2021 to one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

On July 21, 2020, agents with the Sabine Parish Tactical Narcotics Team made a traffic stop on a vehicle for having a shattered windshield. Upon stopping, the driver exited the vehicle and fled the scene and agents were unable to locate him. Moments later, an individual later determined to be Epps, exited from the rear of the same vehicle carrying a black duffel bag and fled. During the pursuit, Epps tossed the bag as he ran but he was soon apprehended. The duffel bag was recovered and found to contain marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. Agents also recovered a loaded handgun near the bag.

The case was investigated by the ATF and Sabine Parish Tactical Narcotics Team and prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown.

In another case, United States District Judge Donald E. Walter sentenced Nicholas J. Bryant, 21, of Shreveport, to 46 months (3 years, 10 months) in prison, followed by 2 years of supervised release. Bryant pleaded guilty on January 19, 2022 to being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

Following a July 4, 2021 shooting, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms (ATF) Task Force located Bryant and read him his Miranda warnings. In questioning him following the arrest, Bryant admitted to agents that he had a gun his car. Agents searched the vehicle and found a 9mm pistol with an extended magazine containing 25 rounds of ammunition. Bryant was previously convicted of domestic abuse battery in the First Judicial District Court in Caddo Parish, Louisiana in 2021. This conviction prohibited Bryant from possessing any firearm or ammunition.

The case was investigated by the ATF and Shreveport Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert F. Moody.