Pork and turkey company executive Ronald William Prestage has pleaded not guilty to charges of carrying a pistol outside his home or business, a felony in Washington, D.C. The president of Prestage Farms of South Carolina and president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) was arrested a day earlier after allegedly trying to enter the Cannon House Office Building with a handgun.


Prestage, 59, appeared with attorney Robert Spagnoletti on July 24 in D.C. Superior Court. Spagnoletti entered the plea and requested a speedy trial, according to The State. Prestage was released until his next court appearance. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for August 13.

Prestage holds a concealed-carry permit in his home state of South Carolina, but concealed-carry permits are not issued in Washington, D.C., and open carry there is prohibited.

Prestage was searched as a matter of routine as he entered the federal building, and an officer allegedly found a loaded 9-millimeter Ruger handgun in his bag. Prestage was believed to have been on his way to meet with members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation. An NPPC spokesperson said that Prestage was not representing the pork organization while he was in the nation’s capital.

Prestage Farms has pork and turkey operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, Oklahoma and Mississippi.