Convicted felon sentenced for illegal rifle after high-speed chase

Convicted felon sentenced for illegal rifle after high-speed chase
Ruis was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Louis Sands. (Source: Lowndes Co. Sheriff)

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A convicted felon arrested with an assault rifle and 15 rounds of ammunition in Lanier County was sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally possessing the firearm, said Peter Leary, the acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

Blake Richard Ruis, 26, of Valdosta, was sentenced to serve 96 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Louis Sands on Dec. 17, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Ruis previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on June 16, 2020.

In May, a Lanier County Sheriff’s Office deputy on patrol observed the defendant driving his Ford Mustang erratically and activated his emergency lights. The defendant failed to stop, and a pursuit ensued with the Mustang reaching speeds of 115 mph.

Ruis ultimately lost control of his vehicle, and hit several stop signs before giving up the chase, and the officer found a loaded high point 9mm rifle and 15 rounds of ammunition belonging to the defendant, according to Leary’s office.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Ruis had prior felony convictions in the Superior Court of Lowndes County for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, theft by taking and theft by conversion.

“This convicted felon endangered the community by illegally possessing a gun and made things worse by leading the police on a dangerous, high-speed chase. He will have eight years in federal prison without parole to reflect on his actions,” said Leary. “I want to thank the FBI and the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office for their work taking this defendant off the streets.”

Leary’s office said this case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime and through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them, according to Leary’s office. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally-based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The case is also part of Project Guardian, which draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence, enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes, improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives when a prohibited person tries to buy a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities, according to Leary’s office.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonja Profit prosecuted the case for the Government. There is no parole in the federal system.

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