Portsmouth man charged, sentenced for firearm and fraud-related charges


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday, officials say a Portsmouth man was sentenced to 18 years in prison for firearm and fraud-related charges.

Armad Jamall Gatling, 26, was sentenced today to 18 years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, aggravated identity theft and credit union fraud.

“With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable for the serious nature of his crimes, including his recruitment of over 50 co-conspirators to participate in an extensive fraud scheme involving the Dark Web that inflicted significant financial loss on numerous victims,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Thank you to our law enforcement partners for risking their lives to apprehend the defendant following his reckless high-speed chase during which he placed community members in danger. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all our partner agencies who helped bring the defendant to justice on behalf of the victims in this case.”

Gatling, also known as “Peso Chapo,” worked as a drug dealer for a Portsmouth-based drug trafficking organization between December 2018 and January 2019. During that time, he sold cocaine four times to a cooperating source.

Following those incidents, court documents show he sold an AR-style rifle to a person he knew to be a convicted felon in July 2019.

In September 2019, after he was federally indicted, Gatling fled from Chesapeake Police at speeds near 120 mph all while running red lights and driving into oncoming traffic on a bridge. He abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot before being arrested.

When police searched his car, they discovered nine credit cards in other people’s names, a credit card swipe reader, a license with Gatling’s photo but listing a different name and a security baton.

Authorities searched his social media accounts and electronic devices and discovered that, from January 2019 to September 2019, Gatling took part in a check fraud scheme. He recruited others to open credit union accounts, then deposited counterfeit checks into those accounts and quickly withdrew the funds before the fraud was detected.

Officials say he recruited more than 50 co-conspirators and had at least 50 victims suffering financial losses totaling more than $368,000.

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