FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
DEFENDANTS SENTENCED IN ILLEGAL GUN STRAW PURCHASE CONSPIRACY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division announced today that an Indianapolis resident has been sentenced to 63 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to purchase firearms for prohibited persons.
Dion L. Baugh, a/k/a Daneta Massey, was sentenced this afternoon by Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana, on charges of illegal possession of a firearm as a felon, conspiracy to make false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms, aiding and abetting a false statement, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Baugh pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2003.
Baugh’s sentencing comes one day after another defendant in the straw purchase conspiracy case, Cecelia D. Land of Indianapolis, was sentenced to three years probation, which includes five months of home detention with electronic monitoring, on a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms. The third defendant charged in an April 2003 indictment, Juan C. Johnson of Indianapolis, also pleaded guilty at federal court in Indianapolis yesterday to a charge of aiding and abetting a false statement in acquisition of firearms. Johnson was sentenced to 51 months in prison.
In their plea agreements, the defendants admitted conspiring from about July 12, 2000 until at least Oct. 16, 2000, to make false statements to licensed firearms dealers. The defendants admitted that Land and another individual represented in these statements that they were the actual buyers of the firearms, when in fact they were purchased for Baugh and Johnson, who are barred as convicted felons from owning or possessing firearms. As part of the conspiracy, Land purchased a total of 33 firearms from licensed firearm dealers on 10 different occasions at the request of Johnson and Baugh. Although Land certified on federal firearm forms that she was the actual buyer of the firearms, she then delivered them to Johnson and Baugh, both convicted felons.
“This case of lying and buying illustrates one of the key aspects of our efforts to prevent dangerous felons from acquiring firearms,” said Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division. “We will not tolerate guns in their hands, and we will doggedly pursue those who put them there.”
The convictions were the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, working with the FBI, the Indianapolis Metro Drug Task Force, the Indianapolis Police Department, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by trial attorneys Jerry Massie and Nancy Oliver from the Domestic Security Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division.
Since 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft has directed U.S. Attorneys to target individuals who lie in order to obtain a firearm they could not legally purchase, as well as straw purchasers. In the past three years, federal gun crime prosecutions have increased by 68 percent. During Fiscal Year 2003, Project Safe Neighborhoods set a new Justice Department record with nearly 23 percent more defendants charged with gun crimes in one year.
In a separate case last month, the Attorney General announced an indictment alleging the illegal transfer of firearms from Ohio to street gang members in East Orange, New Jersey. Hundreds of firearms were allegedly purchased through straw purchasers who lied on the required background check form.