PEORIA, Ill. – Vincent Nichols Jr., 35, of the 2600 block of West Hedge Hill Lane, Peoria, Illinois has been sentenced to the Bureau of Prisons for 92 months for possession of a firearm by a felon. Imprisonment will be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that on September 23, 2020, Nichols was a passenger in a car being driven by an individual with an outstanding arrest warrant. Peoria Police Officers conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and arrested the driver. Police then searched the car and asked each of three additional occupants to step out. During the search, police located a 9mm handgun directly on top of the seat where Nichols had been sitting. The gun was loaded with 15 rounds of live ammunition in the magazine and one round in the chamber.
In pretrial filings, the government had established that Nichols had previously been convicted of a felony offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year.
Nichols was indicted in October, 2020 and convicted by a jury on March 30, 2022.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge James Shadid stated that persons unlawfully possessing and carrying firearms contribute to the tragedy and heartbreak on our City streets, adding that sentences imposed must be lengthy to deter others and to reflect the seriousness of the offense.
The statutory penalties for possession of a firearm by a felon are up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Peoria Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald L. Hanna and Sarah Holst Schryer represented the government in the prosecution.
The case against Nichols was brought as part of The Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. The Department’s renewed commitment to Project Safe Neighborhoods establishes four fundamental principles to guide efforts to reduce violent crime: 1) build trust and legitimacy within communities; 2) invest in community-based prevention and intervention programs; 3) target enforcement and priorities to focus resources on identifying, investigating, and prosecuting the most significant drivers of gun violence and other violent crime; and, 4) measure results with the goal to reduce the level of violence in our communities and not to increase the number of arrests and prosecutions as if they were ends in themselves.