Sirens & Gavels

Felon gets 15 years in federal prison

Inmate Casey Beckham (left) plays chess through a locked cell door with Jay Merrill. Crowding has forced a cutback in free time for some areas allowing only 3 hours a day out of the cell. Dan Pelle Photo (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Inmate Casey Beckham (left) plays chess through a locked cell door with Jay Merrill. Crowding has forced a cutback in free time for some areas allowing only 3 hours a day out of the cell. Dan Pelle Photo (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A Spokane felon long considered a threat to the community but never locked up for more than a few years is facing 15 years in federal prison because of stiff drug and firearm sentencing laws.

Casey D. Beckham, 34, (right, and above, playing chess at the jail in 1997) was arrested in May 2009 after a day-long SWAT team standoff at a north Spokane apartment complex.

He broke through an apartment ceiling and hid in the rafters, where police found him with a pound and a half of methamphetamine and $8,500. About a dozen stolen firearms were found in the apartment.

He posted about $250,000 in November but was rearrested about two weeks later. His case was sent to U.S. District Court, where his felon in possession of a firearm charge, coupled with his lengthy criminal record, qualified him as an armed career criminal eligible for the federal mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

He signed a plea agreement Feb. 12 that gives him 188 months in prison.

"We encourage the prosecutors, the sheriffs and the police chiefs to point out to us folks who are repeat offenders," said U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt.

Beckham pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges connected to several firearms and agreed to cooperate with investigators. Five days after he signed the plea agreement, federal prosecutors indicted a man accused of selling Beckham those firearms.

James E. Johnson was charged Feb. 17 with unlawful sale of a stolen firearms, unlawful possession and sale of a stolen firearm and felon in possession of a firearm. Johnson was arrested in a meth lab bust in Bonner County in 1998, according to news archives.

Past coverage: Man arrested after seven-hour standoff




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