All eight of the alleged gunrunners from Rock Hill accused of smuggling weapons to New York City before police confiscated 254 weapons in the largest illegal gun seizure in that city’s history continue to plead not guilty and contest the charges.
All the defendants except one remain jailed under bonds that reach $1 million. On Jan. 27, a New York judge gave many of the defendants a month to accept plea offers that were made on the record in court, but all of them have so far maintained not guilty pleas, according to court records and a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The spokesperson confirmed Friday that a month after the plea offers were extended, each case remains pending.
Police and prosecutors allege the group used the simple and often legal access to buying guns in South Carolina to try to cash in by selling them in New York, where gun possession laws are far more strict.
At least one of the defendants who allegedly bought and sold weapons, Larick Michaux of Rock Hill, was banned by state and federal laws from possessing weapons because of past felony convictions for drugs and violent crimes. Michaux, 26, who faces 49 felony gun and conspiracy counts, remains in jail in New York without bond, court records show. Michaux has so far not accepted a plea offer of 18 years in prison plus probation that was part of the record in a Jan. 27 court hearing in Manhattan.
The bust brought more than 550 total indictments against 19 people with ties to the Carolinas – including more than 230 charges against Earl Campbell, the Rock Hill native accused of being a ringleader in the South Carolina to New York “Iron Pipeline.” Campbell is accused of making $75,000 by selling 90 weapons ranging from machine guns to pistols to undercover officers from October 2012 through the summer of 2013 before his arrest. Campbell and his girlfriend, Kendall Danielle Jones, also from Rock Hill, allegedly took a Charlotte-to-New York bus at least two dozen times to deliver the weapons.
Campbell, 24, who faces the potential of life in prison if convicted at trial, was offered a 30-year sentence with five years’ probation if he pleads guilty, according to court officials. The indictments allege that wiretapped conversations recorded by police during the undercover sting show Campbell and Michaux argued over profits during the months of the plot, with Michaux wanting more money. Campbell also was recorded talking about expecting to get the most money because he was taking the most risk, indictments allege.
His girlfriend, Jones, allegedly used a cellphone video to attempt to assemble an assault rifle on a New York street corner during one sale to undercover police. She is being held without bond after fighting extradition for months before relenting in January.
Larick Michaux’s sister, Warquisha Michaux, 29, is in jail under a $250,000 bond. Indictments allege she supplied Campbell with guns and ammunition and referred to bullets as “cop killers.” She was offered a 10-year sentence if she pleads guilty, according to court officials.
Chris Hill, 25, of Rock Hill , is being held without bond and was offered five years in prison. Arthur Antonio Barber, 27, of Rock Hill, the sole defendant to have been released pending trial after posting $100,000 bond, records show, was offered a deal of five years.
It is unclear if offers were made to Brandon Potts, 24, of Rock Hill, who remains in jail under $250,000 bond, or Marcel Dyess, 21, of Rock Hill, indicted for allegedly supplying weapons. Dyess is in the Turbeville Correctional Institution after pleading guilty in May to felony hit-and-run and other charges in an unrelated case.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065