Owner of Montgomery Pawn Shop Sentenced for Selling Gun to Convicted Felon
Montgomery, Alabama - Arnold Finkelstein, age 61, of Deatsville, Alabama, was sentenced on February 17, 2010, to four years of probation, 200 hours of community service, and a $14,400.00 fine after pleading guilty to selling a firearm to a convicted felon from Best Pawn and Exchange Company in Montgomery, U.S. Attorney Leura G. Canary announced today.
Finkelstein earlier pled guilty to selling a firearm to a person who was prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law because he had been convicted of a felony offense. Finkelstein admitted that he sold the firearm to the felon on October 24, 2008. At the time, Finkelstein was the owner of Best Pawn and Exchange Company and held a federal firearms license authorizing him to be a dealer in firearms. As part of his agreement to plead guilty, Finkelstein agreed to forfeit his federal firearms license and can no longer sell firearms. Because the offense he pled guilty to is also a felony, Finkelstein can no longer possess any firearms according to federal law.
An employee of the pawn shop, Manera Saloom Branstetter, age 29, of Montgomery, Alabama, also pled guilty to two misdemeanor offenses related to the investigation into firearms sales at Best Pawn. Branstetter pled guilty to two counts of transferring a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer without conducting a background check of the purchaser with the national instant criminal background check system. Branstetter was sentenced on February 10, 2010, to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.
The case was investigated and prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, which seeks to prevent violent crime through enforcement of the federal firearms laws, such as the law prohibiting the sale of firearms to convicted felons. The program is known as Alabama ICE in the Middle District of Alabama. According to United States Attorney Leura G. Canary, “Federally licensed firearms dealers are entrusted to follow the laws regarding firearms sales to ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals. Mr. Finkelstein failed that trust. In cooperation with ATF and other law enforcement agencies, we will continue to investigate and prosecute the illegal sale of firearms.”
The case was investigated by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and was prosecuted prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Shepherd.
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