Two Beckley Men Sentenced for Federal Gun Charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOAY) – Two Beckley men will spend time in federal prison for being felons in possession of firearms.

John Swain, 45, was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Swain was convicted by a federal jury in April 2019. In September 2018, Swain and two other individuals were investigated for public intoxication and open container in downtown Beckley. Swain was the only one who was non-compliant. He fled on foot and reached for his waist during the pursuit. He was caught and a canine found a pistol along the path of flight. Swain later admitted to possessing the firearm. Swain was prohibited from possessing any firearm under federal law because of a 2008 federal conviction.

John Watson, 43, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Watson admitted that in May 2018, a Special Agent contacted him to discuss three firearms that he recently purchased. The agent informed Watson that each of the firearms were stolen and asked him to return them to the Beckley Police Department. Watson complied and turned the firearms over to the police. He admitted that he knew that he was not allowed to possess a firearm under federal law because of a 2004 felony conviction in Harrison County Circuit Court.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Beckley Police Department conducted the investigations.

Those cases are being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program, 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. PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at