From The Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge recently sentenced Torace Laster, 25, of Center Point, on drug and gun convictions to which he previously pleaded guilty, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Mickey French.
On Nov. 29, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Anna M. Manasco sentenced Laster to 30 months in prison for possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and cocaine, and a consecutive 30 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, with credit being given for time already served while the charges were pending.
According to the plea agreement, on the evening of April 1, 2021, Gardendale Police officers encountered an SUV that had been stolen two days earlier in Birmingham. When they attempted to stop the driver, later identified as Laster, he sped onto a nearby street and then onto I-65. From there, he led the Gardendale officers on a high-speed chase that ended in eastern Birmingham when Laster exited the interstate and drove into a Birmingham neighborhood. Officers caught Laster in the neighborhood after he bailed out of the stolen vehicle and attempted to run.
“In fleeing from officers, this defendant needlessly risked the lives of law enforcement and citizens traveling on the roads that night,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “I appreciate the hard work of our law enforcement partners and their effort to safely apprehend this defendant.”
Officers searched the stolen vehicle and found two backpacks, which contained a wallet with Laster’s identification card, multiple court notices addressed to Laster, a 9-millimeter pistol, two magazines loaded with ammunition and various controlled substances, including the cocaine and oxycodone to which he pleaded guilty. A Gardendale detective subsequently located a social media video posted by Laster on the day of his arrest. That video showed him sitting in what appeared to be the stolen SUV, discussing various drugs while holding one of the backpacks found after his arrest. On the video, Laster also had a conversation with someone off camera about the drugs he possessed.
Laster was prohibited from possessing the pistol because he had prior convictions for assault, second degree, receiving stolen property, first degree, and theft of property, first degree.
“The individuals who knowingly and unlawfully possess firearms, distribute narcotics, and use illegal substances while possessing firearms are a huge concern,” SAC Watson said. “The ATF works collaboratively with our law enforcement partners to swiftly remove violent criminals from the streets. The ATF’s primary mission is to combat violent crime in our communities, and we will work tirelessly to keep the communities that we serve safe.”
The ATF investigated this case along with the Gardendale Police Department. The Kimberly Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama State Troopers, and Birmingham Police Department provided support during the pursuit and at the arrest scene. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Baty prosecuted the case.