Carter man sentenced to 15 yearsin prison for possessing ammunition

Matthew Lane • Mar 5, 2007 at 11:21 AM

GREENEVILLE - A Carter County man will spend the next 15 years in prison for being a convicted felon in possession of .22-caliber ammunition.

Figel "Buddy" Rhea, 36, was sentenced to 180 months in prison on Monday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. Rhea will also be on supervised release for five years after his prison sentence.

In August, Rhea pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of .22-caliber ammunition. Rhea had also been charged with a second count of possessing ammunition while a convicted felon, possession of a firearm, and possession of marijuana. However, those charges were dropped.

Rhea faced a maximum sentence of 210 months in prison due to his prior convictions.

Rhea's arrest stems from a purchase of .22-caliber ammunition he made in May 2006 at the Wal-Mart in Elizabethton while having five previous felony convictions in North Carolina for breaking and entering.

According to court records, Rhea was arrested on May 28, 2006, after the vehicle he was traveling in was stopped by the Carter County Sheriff's Department.

The CCSD received word of a domestic violence incident taking place by the side of the road of the Captain's Table - a restaurant on Highway 321 in Carter County.

Court records state deputies saw a vehicle matching the description of the one leaving the scene of the incident. Deputies followed the vehicle onto National Forest Service land until it stopped, and then they talked to the vehicle's three passengers.

During the course of the conversation, deputies discovered a pistol in the glove compartment of the vehicle and .22-caliber ammunition on Rhea. After Rhea told the deputies he had recently been released from the custody of the North Carolina Department of Corrections, he was arrested and taken into custody.

Authorities eventually obtained a recording of Rhea purchasing the ammunition at the Wal-Mart in Elizabethton earlier that day.

"Because of his criminal history, under federal code - the armed career criminal statute - anybody who has three qualifying prior felony convictions and possesses a firearm or ammunition is a 15-year minimum sentence," said U.S. Attorney Rob Reeves. "He got the minimum sentence of what he could get with his criminal history."

According to court records, Rhea had five felony breaking and entering convictions in North Carolina from 1989 to 1993. Details of the charges are as follows:

•Larceny (committed in April 1989) and breaking and entering (committed in October 1989) - received a three-year prison sentence.

•Breaking and entering (committed in October 1990) - received a five-year prison sentence.

•Three counts of breaking and entering (committed in January 1993) - received 10-year prison sentence.

There is no parole in the federal system, and Rhea will have to serve the entire 15-year prison sentence before being released, Reeves said.

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