COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. announced today that Natalie Michelle Quarles, 45, of Lexington, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The charges followed a traffic stop in which Quarles possessed a loaded firearm; approximately $1,400.00 in cash; marijuana, oxycodone and acetaminophen pills; hydrocodone and acetaminophen pills; amphetamine pills; and methamphetamine.
Evidence presented in court established that on July 3, 2018, a deputy with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle for failure to maintain its lane. Quarles was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle. When the deputy asked for her driver’s license, Quarles admitted that her license was under suspension and that she had been deemed a habitual traffic offender by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. The deputy verified the information through dispatch. While placing her under arrest for driving under suspension, Quarles stated that she had a gun as well as some marijuana and pills in the vehicle. In the vehicle, the deputy located a loaded firearm; approximately $1,400.00 in cash; marijuana, oxycodone and acetaminophen pills; hydrocodone and acetaminophen pills; amphetamine pills; and methamphetamine. Quarles admitted to the deputy that she knew she was prohibited from possessing the firearm.
Quarles is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon her prior state convictions. Specifically, in 2008, she received concurrent sentences for the following convictions: five years for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature; four years for grand larceny; one year for receiving stolen goods greater than $5000; two years for burglary second degree non-violent; and two years for strong arm robbery. Following her release from prison, she was convicted in 2014 of false information and driving under suspension. In 2015, she was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and shoplifting, sentenced to 18 months, and placed on state probation for 18 months. Approximately one year later, Quarles violated her probation and it was revoked.
United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Quarles to 108 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Casey Rankin Smith of the 11th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office prosecuted the case.
The case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (“PSN”), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.