Peoria siblings charged for involvement in gun store looting, lying to federal officers

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Three years of supervised release after 366 days in federal prison is the sentence for a Peoria man who was allegedly involved in the burglary of a federally licensed firearms dealer in 2020.

Jeron C. McNeal, 29, also allegedly lied to federal law enforcement officers about his involvement in the burglary. U.S. District Court Judge Joe Billy McDade ordered McNeal to pay a $1,000 restitution fine.

McNeal is expected to stay on bond and report to the Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 1, 2022.

Stealing from a licensed firearms dealer carries a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release following imprisonment. Providing false statements earns one a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release following imprisonment.

McNeal’s sister, Chayla R. McNeal, also pleaded guilty to burglary of a federally licensed firearms dealer and false statements to a federal law enforcement officer. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5 in federal court in Peoria.

THE BACKSTORY

Government officials presented evidence of the crime at McNeal’s sentence hearing. Evidence revealed McNeal was the driver of a black Cadillac SUV whose occupants were involved in looting incidents around the city of Peoria on June 1, 2020.

Officials said at 2 in the morning, McNeal stopped in front of Pinnacle Gun & Ammo located at 701 Main St. along with a caravan of about 30 cars. Two minors, a male and a female, left McNeal’s SUV and entered a smashed front window of the shop along with approximately seven other unidentified individuals.

They said McNeal’s sister, Chayla, stood at the SUV and recorded the incident with her phone. Each of the two minors with McNeal stole firearms from the store and ran back to McNeal’s SUV.

Police responded to the break-in and began to chase McNeal, who drove away with the male minor and several guns. The female minor was left behind and was apprehended by police. When she was captured, the female minor had three stolen guns.

Twenty-nine firearms in total were stolen during the looting of Pinnacle.

More evidence revealed that on June 1, 2020, federal agents located and interviewed McNeal, and he admitted that he owned and drove the SUV that was parked in front of Pinnacle at the time of the burglary. He also said he drove around the city from business to business that night and that he was present when looting occurred.

Despite evidence that he was there and involved in the crime, McNeal lied to agents about his involvement multiple times. He told them he only stopped in front of Pinnacle because he got stuck in traffic, and that he did not know anyone got out of his SUV during the burglary. He also lied about who was in the SUV when he went to Pinnacle.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge McDade said McNeal did not have an extensive criminal record and may not have grasped the enormity of what he was doing, having failed to consider that he would go to prison if he was caught. McDade also noted putting stolen firearms in the hands of people who cannot lawfully possess them is contributing to violence in the streets.

McNeal was arrested on Sept. 18. 2020 and pleaded guilty before Judge McDade on June 2,

At this time, just five of the 29 guns have been recovered.

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