PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a Providence man has been sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve five years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to narcotics trafficking and illegally possessing three firearms following a joint investigation by the Providence Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the Office of the Attorney General, with assistance from the Massachusetts State Police (MSP).
Willie Washington, Jr. (age 24) entered a plea of nolo contendere to three counts of possession of a firearm after a previous conviction of a crime of violence, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).
At a hearing on November 16, 2022, before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers, the Court sentenced the defendant to 12 years, with five years to serve at the ACI, and the balance suspended with probation. The State recommended a sentence to require the defendant to serve seven years at the ACI.
“The threat of illegal firearms in the hands of those all too willing to use them to protect criminal activity, or to settle senseless disputes, is the reason why it is critical that law enforcement agencies work together to quickly investigate violent crime,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Improving the efficiency in how we target and investigate violent crime means better public safety outcomes for all Rhode Islanders. I am grateful to the Providence Police Department, ATF, MSP, and investigators and prosecutors from my Office who did a fine job in bringing this defendant to justice.”
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that during the afternoon on November 24, 2020, investigators seized several firearms, quantities of narcotics, ammunition, and cash from the defendant’s residence on Mowry Street in Providence.
In the weeks leading up to the defendant’s arrest, investigators from the Providence Police Department, ATF, and the Office of the Attorney General opened an investigation into suspected narcotics distribution by the defendant.
Following their investigation, during the afternoon of November 24, investigators executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence where they seized a fully loaded Taurus Ultra Lite .38 special revolver, a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic handgun loaded with 12 rounds, a Mossberg 590a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun, a 50-round 9mm large-capacity drum magazine, dozens of rounds of various calibers of ammunition, approximately 13.2 grams of cocaine and cocaine base, 18 fentanyl pills, approximately 15.9 grams of MDMA, cutting agent, drug paraphernalia, and approximately $1,400 in cash.
Just prior to the warrant execution, the defendant was arrested in Medford, Massachusetts by members of ATF and MSP and later extradited back to Rhode Island.
“The men and women of the Providence Police Department are dedicated to keeping Providence safe from the threat of violence that this defendant posed to the community,” said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. “This significant sentence sends a clear message that this criminal activity isn’t worth the penalty of incarceration.”
“I applaud the investigative efforts of our detectives and partners in law enforcement for working efficiently to take a dangerous individual off of our streets,” said Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr. “With every arrest, and every successful prosecution, like this case, means that risks to public safety are being removed from our communities.”
“Working with our valued partners to address armed narcotics traffickers is a priority for ATF,” said James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division. “Investigative partnerships like this one provide our best opportunity to address illegal activity and disrupt cycles of violence.”
Detective Matthew McGloin of the Providence Police Department, Special Agents A.J. Ventetuolo and Christopher Bzduch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and Special Assistant Attorney General Gregory Moore and investigators from the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the case, with assistance from Trooper Douglas Grout of the MSP Detective Unit, Worcester County.