Philadelphia Felon Sentenced to Over Three Years for Illegally Possessing a Firearm Following Incident on I-76

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Bernard Giddings, 26, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, and three years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson for illegally possessing a firearm as a felon following an incident on a state highway last year.

In December 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charges stemmed from an incident that took place in March 2021 on Interstate-76, to which Pennsylvania State Police responded. Following leads developed in the investigation, PSP investigators obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s residence in Philadelphia. Upon execution of the search warrant, Troopers recovered a loaded semi-automatic firearm and an extended magazine under the bed where the defendant was sleeping. The defendant ultimately admitted to possessing the gun, and forensic testing found his DNA on the weapon as well. PSP investigators later determined that the firearm had been reported stolen out of North Carolina in 2019.

“The crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm is a serious offense, particularly in Philadelphia where gun violence continues to plague neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Giddings will now spend years in prison for this offense, which means there is one less person illegally carrying a weapon on the streets of our city. Our Office is determined to continue doing everything we can to reduce gun violence in Philadelphia by being ‘All Hands On Deck’ to put criminals like this defendant behind bars.”

“Identifying, investigating, and assisting in the prosecution of the armed gunmen that threaten the safety of the public is ATF’s primary focus,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division.  “ATF is determined to collaborate with our law enforcement partners in our plight to ensure Philadelphia neighborhoods can be free of gun violence.  Thank you to the Pennsylvania State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their committed support in our effort to combat violent crime.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The case was investigated by Pennsylvania State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Martin Howley.