Wheeling Man Admits To International Firearm Trafficking
1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Chris Zumpetta-Parr, Public Affairs Specialist
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA — A 25-year old Wheeling, West Virginia, man has admitted to acquiring firearms in the Ohio Valley and then shipping them to other countries in violation of federal law.
United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that MICHAEL STEVEN FRANK entered pleas of guilty to “Conspiracy to Export Firearms” and “Money Laundering” in the United States District Court in Wheeling. FRANK admitted in court that from February 7, 2012, to August 2, 2012, he unlawfully exported twenty-four firearms to purchasers in Canada and Israel. At least one of the foreign sales was funded through an unlawful money laundering transaction in which the buyer anonymously shipped $2,000 in currency to FRANK.
The investigation initially indicated the guns were being shipped by a man named “Jason Silvers” but the U.S. Postal Service was able to determine that the shipper was actually FRANK. It was further discovered that FRANK purchased the firearms from local gun dealers and then obliterated the serial numbers on the weapons before shipping them outside of the country in exchange for cash payments. As part of his plea, FRANK will forfeit all firearms involved in the violations as well as a money judgment of $2,000.
FRANK, who is free on bond pending sentencing, faces up to 25 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $750,000.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Stein and was investigated by the Postal Inspection Service; US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.