Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Wednesday, May 8, 2002
ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES TEXAS EXILE INDICTMENTS
Federal Grand Jury in Tyler Returns Five Indictments
TYLER - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Orwig today announced five indictments by a federal grand jury in Tyler that were made possible using existing gun laws. The program, known as Texas Exile, is designed to go after criminals who illegally use and carry weapons without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. Special Prosecutor Jim Noble in the Eastern District's Tyler Division is handling the cases.
"These indictments continue to send the message that gun crime means hard time in Texas," said Attorney General Cornyn. "Texas Exile is working and will continue to be successful because of everyone's commitment, from the police officer on the street making arrests to the state and federal prosecutors reviewing cases."
The first indictment charges 46-year-old Craig Byron Tharp of Bullard, Texas, with three counts of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possessing an unregistered bomb or grenade, and three counts of possession of a firearm by a drug user. Tharp has two prior felony convictions in Smith County, including a DWI. On January 28, 2002, Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at Tharp's mobile home and found three handguns, two shotguns, and several hundred rounds of various types of ammunition. Deputies also discovered three hand grenade bodies, a pipe bomb, several cans of black powder and cannon fuse. Tharp was also found to be in possession of marijuana. If convicted, Tharp faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The second indictment charges 38-year-old John David Kolberg of Point, Texas, with one count of felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possessing an unregistered firearm. Kolberg has two prior felony convictions, including a 1997 escape from an Oklahoma prison. On August 22, 2000, Kolberg's wife brought the defendant's sawed-off shotgun to the Rains County Sheriff's Office. On October 21, 2001, Tyler ATF agents tracked Kolberg down in Guadalupe County. If convicted, Kolberg faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The third indictment charges 28-year-old Marquest Decole Long of Palestine, Texas, with one count of felon in possession of a firearm and one count of false statement to acquire a firearm. Long has four prior felony convictions that include a 2000 Anderson County conviction for forgery and three 1993 convictions in Galveston County for cocaine possession, cocaine delivery and possession of a prohibited weapon. Long pawned a shotgun in Palestine on May 24, 2001; Tyler ATF agents discovered his felony status when he tried to retrieve the weapon several days later on June 9. If convicted, Long faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The fourth indictment charges 24-year-old Corey Ronshon Phillips of Barrett, Texas, with one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of felon in possession of ammunition, one count of possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and two counts of possession of firearm and ammunition by a drug user. Phillips has three prior 1999 felony convictions for delivery of a controlled substance in Smith County. On November 9, 2001, Tyler police officers and FBI agents responded to the defendant's Tyler residence after receiving a complaint from a concerned citizen. The defendant gave officers consent to search the house which lead to the discovery of a handgun, ammunition, and several packages of marijuana. If convicted, Phillips faces a minimum of 5 years and up to 10 years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine.
The fifth indictment charges 45-year-old Gerald Thomas Noble of Elkhart, Texas, with one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, one count of possessing an unregistered firearm, and three counts of possessing drugs with intent to distribute. Noble has a prior 1990 conviction in Smith County. On September 12, 2001, a Palestine police officer stopped Noble's vehicle after observing a possible theft from the Goodwill Industries trailer at a parking lot. A pat down revealed a switchblade knife in Noble's pocket. The officer then searched Noble's vehicle and found a sawed-off 20 gauge shotgun, a .22 rifle, and several controlled substances. If convicted, Noble faces a minimum of 5 years and up to 10 years in prison plus a $250,000 fine.
Since its creation in September 1999, Texas Exile has led to 1,475 indictments, 1,025 convictions and 1,993 guns confiscated. There are 11 prosecutors statewide. The program is funded by a renewable $1.6 million grant from the Governor's Criminal Justice Division. The U.S. Justice Department has also granted $500,000 to Texas Exile as part of the President's Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
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