PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a Providence man was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve nine years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to illegal firearm and drug trafficking charges stemming from his arrest by the Rhode Island Violent Fugitive Task Force (RIVFTF) in 2019.
Johnny Veng (age 31) pleaded guilty to one count of using a firearm while committing a crime of violence (possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine), one count of possession of a firearm after having previously been convicted of a crime of violence, and one count of possession with intent to deliver fentanyl.
At a hearing on May 26, before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause, the court sentenced Veng to 15 years at the ACI with nine years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.
“As was the case here, significant drug traffickers view firearms as ‘tools of the trade’ – which greatly enhances the likelihood of violence in connection with their drug trafficking activity. Firearms are used to protect stashes of drugs, cash, and to settle disputes,” said Attorney General Neronha. “This is why illegal firearms and drug trafficking remain a principal focus of our investigative prosecutorial efforts. Our ability to impede this activity results in safe neighborhoods. The defendant’s long sentence of incarceration here is entirely deserved, and I am grateful to the Court for imposing it.”
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on December 5, 2019, members of the RIVFTF seized a handgun, various types of narcotics, and paraphernalia following the execution of a warrant at a home on Dover Street in Providence.
That day, members of the RIVFTF initially executed a warrant in search of a fugitive from justice at the home on Dover Street. While searching for the fugitive, task force members came across large bags of a white powdery substance and a digital scale in Veng’s bedroom.
Investigators then obtained a search warrant and seized a Glock 23 .40 caliber pistol as well as approximately 921 grams of fentanyl; 327 grams of cocaine; 204 grams of fentanyl and heroin mix; 69 grams of marijuana; 14 grams of valeryl fentanyl, fentanyl, and heroin mix; and scales and bagging materials.
In 2013, Veng was convicted of first-degree robbery. Under Rhode Island law, individuals convicted of crimes of violence, including first-degree robbery, are prohibited from possessing a firearm.
The RIVFTF is run by the Rhode Island State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service. The Task Force is composed of members of the Rhode Island State Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Warwick, Cranston, Middletown, Pawtucket, Portsmouth and Providence Police Departments who work full time to track down and apprehend the most violent and dangerous fugitives both within the United States and Internationally.
Assistant Attorney General James Baum, Special Assistant Attorneys General Edward G. Mullaney and Gregory Abilheira of the Office of the Attorney General, and Investigator Tyler Trott of the Middletown Police Department, assigned to the Rhode Island Violent Fugitive Task Force, led the investigation and prosecution of the case.