Greenville, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Brian Lewis, 24, of Greenville, South Carolina, was convicted in federal court in Anderson of conspiracy to murder a trial witness of the State of South Carolina, conspiracy to assault with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to possess firearms during the commission of a violent crime.
Evidence presented at trial established that Lewis was the South Carolina leader for a street gang. The gang was an ongoing criminal enterprise in South Carolina, with leadership throughout the country that engaged in racketeering activities including attempted murder, armed robbery, and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and crack cocaine.
Lewis conspired with fellow members of the street gang in Greenville County and Florence, South Carolina, to attempt to murder a witness in a state trial. That witness was the victim of an armed robbery previously committed by Lewis. Lewis commissioned at least four other street gang members to murder the anticipated witness in order to avoid a lengthy sentence for that crime. Law enforcement, however, was able to intercept the conspiracy before any attempt on the witness’s life was accomplished.
Lewis faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system. United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain of Anderson presided over the trial and will sentence Lewis after receiving and reviewing a presentence report prepared by the United States Probation Office.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a crime reduction strategy originally launched in 2001 that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Turning the tide of rising violent crime in America is a top priority for the Department of Justice, which has reinstituted PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy. Assistant United States Attorneys D. Josev Brewer and Sloan Ellis of the Greenville office prosecuted the case.