A Beaufort man who once served time in state prison will now serve a 10-year federal sentence for firearms offenses. Wade Deon McKeithen, 36, pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced Thursday for two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
Senior U.S. District Judge Margaret B. Seymour of Charleston sentenced McKeithen to 10 years in prison, five years for each count. The sentences are to be served consecutively.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Carra Henderson of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office prosecuted the case, part of a longstanding partnership to target career criminals in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Colleton and Allendale counties.
The partnership between the Solicitor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office began in 2015 and has resulted in convictions against 38 defendants. It allows Henderson to prosecute 14th Circuit offenders in federal court, where penalties for gun, drug and organized-crime offenses are typically more severe than in state courts. Henderson was the first state-level prosecutor in South Carolina to be fully embedded with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
While on parole in 2015, McKeithen ran from police during a traffic stop and crashed the Chevy Impala he was driving into a drainage ditch. Cocaine, Oxycodone and a methamphetamine mixture were found on McKeithen, along with a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition in the Chevy.
During a subsequent traffic stop in October 2016, Beaufort Police found cash, drug paraphernalia, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and a loaded 9 mm handgun and magazine with 16 rounds in a vehicle that McKeithen was a passenger.
The vehicle was pulled over for violating a curfew during Hurricane Matthew.
McKeithen’s criminal history includes 12 years in a state prison for armed robbery with a deadly weapon, and assault and battery with intent to kill.