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Feds arrest Sylva businessman

jacksonA longtime Sylva business owner was arrested on federal charges after agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms surrounded his Main Street store Friday morning.

Duane Jay Ball, who owns Jewelry Enterprise on Main Street, will face 13 charges related to distributing drugs and firearms, with Keith Hooper as a co-defendant on three of the drug charges. 

According to the indictment, Ball allegedly sold firearms without a license on seven occasions between November 2013 and September 2014. On two of those occasions, court documents say, Ball allegedly sold firearms — a Glock 0.32-caliber pistol and Sig Sauer 0.22-caliber pistol — to people he knew had been convicted of crimes “punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” 

Ball will also face charges on six counts of selling drugs — four for distributing a mixture containing oxycodone, one for a mixture containing hydrocodone and one for a mixture containing both drugs. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are Schedule II controlled substances. Hooper is a co-defendant on three of these charges. 

Ball has owned Jewelry Enterprise for nearly 30 years and had filed to run for the Sylva Board of Alderman in this year’s elections. He submitted a letter to the Board of Elections before the deadline, however, withdrawing his name from the ballot. The letter did not state a reason.  

Ball has retained Sylva attorney Kris Williams to represent him, while Hooper will be represented by public defender Fredilyn Sison. Richard Edwards will prosecute the case for the U.S. government. 

Both defendants were released from custody following their bond hearing Monday. 

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