Minneapolis Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Illegally Buying Firearms
MINNEAPOLIS—This week in federal court, a 31-year-old Minneapolis man was sentenced for providing false information when purchasing numerous firearms, many of which were later recovered during criminal investigations. On Tuesday, September 11, 2012, United States District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery sentenced Ryan Thomas Sandoval to 30 months in federal prison, after he pleaded guilty on May 21, 2012, to two counts of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. Because the federal criminal justice system does not have parole, Sandoval will spend virtually his entire prison sentence behind bars. He remains in custody at this time.
Following sentencing, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said, “This sentence should serve as a warning to those who think “lying and buying” is not a serious offense. These guns routinely end up in the hands of felons, who use them to commit violent crimes. Together with our investigative partners, we will pursue and prosecute anyone who purchases firearms for criminals.”
Sandoval, who was indicted on April 17, 2012, acted as a straw purchaser of firearms on no fewer than seven occasions between May 5 and August 8, 2011. A straw purchaser is someone who buys firearms for those who cannot purchase them because of their criminal records, among other reasons. To make their purchases, straw buyers break the law by providing false written statements to licensed firearms dealers, conveying, among other things, that they are purchasing the guns for their own use, when, in fact, they are buying them for other people, many of whom are criminals.
Several of the weapons Sandoval bought were later recovered during criminal investigations. Documents filed with the court in this case state, for example, that a Tressitu TZ99 handgun Sandoval purchased on May 5, 2011, was discovered in a suspected criminal’s residence on September 20, 2011. Minneapolis police also recovered marijuana and large amounts of cash from that home. A .40-caliber Glock handgun that Sandoval purchased on July 26, 2011, was found in a vehicle involved in a high-speed chase on December 4, 2011. Crystal police also recovered two kilograms of cocaine from that vehicle. Another .40-caliber Glock, purchased by Sandoval on July 30, 2011, was discovered by law enforcement less than a month later, in Chicago, Illinois, during the execution of a search warrant.
According to the plea agreement entered in this case, Sandoval bought a Glock .40-caliber handgun and one Keltec nine-millimeter handgun from a licensed firearms dealer in Minneapolis on July 26, 2011. He paid cash for the guns. He admittedly purchased the weapons for someone else, knowing that person was prohibited from possessing firearms. He also admittedly made a false written statement on ATF Form 4473 at the time of the purchase, noting he was buying the guns for himself when that was not the case.
During a subsequent law enforcement interview, Sandoval also admitted making gun purchases from a licensed firearms dealer in Minneapolis on June 30, 2011, as well as a licensed dealer in St. Louis Park on August 8, 2011. The guns were then provided to others, including people unknown to Sandoval.
In addition, Sandoval admitted illegally buying for other people a Ruger nine-millimeter pistol and a CAI Romarn/SA 7.62-millimeter firearm from area licensed firearms dealers, as well as a Glock ten-millimeter pistol, a Glock .357-caliber pistol, and a I.O. Inc .380-caliber Hellcat pistol at local gun shows.
This case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Minneapolis Police Department. Assistance was provided by the Crystal Police Department, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and the Chicago Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter.