Baldwin man with previous convictions faces prison term over weapons charge

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A Baldwin man with a history of courtroom exonerations pleaded not guilty today to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and was detained pending trial after a short arraignment hearing.

Jason T. Korey, 31, faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty, but could face 15 years to life if the prosecution can show that he has three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses.

He responded only briefly and politely to questions from U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell and assistant U.S. attorney Barbara Doolittle.

In April a SWAT team’s search of Korey’s Revo Road home by federal agents revealed a .40-caliber Beretta pistol, more than 100 rounds of ammunition of various types, a machete and two folding knives, according to court papers. Because of a 2004 federal conviction for brandishing a firearm in relation to drug trafficking, Korey is not allowed to possess guns.

The search was conducted based on suspicion that Korey had violated probation, but involved both Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents and local police.

Accused of much, Korey has rarely been convicted.

He was found not guilty in the late 1990s homicides of William Kuhn III, 24, Joseph Brucker, 17.

During the subsequent decade, he pleaded guilty to drug charges, but was found not guilty on burglary, gun and cruelty to animals charges.

After today’s hearing, Korey’s attorney, James Kraus, said that the defendant’s history should not be held against him.

“In the context of the history, with respect to this charge, it should be irrelevant,” Mr. Kraus said. “Whatever case that the government has should stand on its own merits.”

Charged in federal court in 2004 with possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of a firearm by a drug user, Korey was initially sentenced to 33 years in prison, but appealed and had that reduced to 33 months.

In 2008, he was charged federally with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, plus carrying a firearm equipped with a silencer in relation to drug trafficking, including a count related to one of the homicides. The late U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster found found that statutes of limitations had tolled on four of the counts, and tossed out the other count as "the result of vindictive prosecution."

Two years ago in state court, Korey was found not guilty of terroristic threats, and he faces fresh charges of fleeing or eluding an officer.

The new case has been assigned to U.S. District Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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