States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|March 11, 2010||
Project Safe Neighborhoods: BRISTOL PAWN SHOP EMPLOYEE SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR ILLEGAL FIREARMS SALES
Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that PHILIP DeFRANCESCO, 40, of Waterbury, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to three months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for making false statements during the purchase of a firearm. DeFRANCESCO pleaded guilty to the offense on December 14, 2009.
According to court documents and statements made in court, DeFRANCESCO was an employee of G and G Pawn Shop, in Bristol, which was a licensed firearms dealer. On January 16, 2009, two ATF special agents, one male and one female, entered G and G Pawn Shop in an undercover capacity. The male undercover agent told DeFRANCESCO that he was looking at handguns and wanted to buy something small for his own protection. The agent and DeFRANCESCO specifically discussed two firearms, a .32 caliber pistol and a .357 revolver. When DeFRANCESCO asked the undercover agent for his firearm permit, the agent replied that he did not have it, pointed to the female undercover agent and said “I had some problems back in college and I can’t...unfortunately....She does.”
After the female undercover agent presented her permit, the male undercover agent continued to examine the firearms, asked questions about some of the pistol’s functions, and discussed prices with DeFRANCESCO. He then told DeFRANCESCO that he would take the .32 caliber pistol and would pay cash. DeFRANCESCO then gave the female undercover agent an ATF Form 4473, a document that federal law requires firearm purchasers to complete. The ATF Form 4473 has a specific question asking if the person filling out the form is the actual buyer of the firearm. The female undercover agent filled out the form indicating she was the actual buyer, and signed it in front of DeFRANCESCO. DeFRANCESCO then handed the .32 caliber pistol to the female undercover agent, who then passed it to the male undercover agent in front of DeFRANCESCO.
In February and March 2009, DeFRANCESCO similarly sold three additional handguns to the male undercover ATF agent through the same female undercover agent acting as the “straw” purchaser.
The charge to which DeFRANCESCO pleaded guilty stemmed from a firearm purchase that occurred on March 9, 2009. On that date, the undercover agents returned to the pawn shop. While the female agent spoke on her cell phone, DeFRANCESCO removed a .22 caliber pistol from the gun case and handed it to the male undercover agent who examined the firearm and worked the slide. The male agent then paid $240 in cash for the firearm, and the female undercover agent completed the ATF Form 4473 and signed it in front of DeFRANCESCO.
DeFRANCESCO, who has been released on a $50,000 bond since his arrest on June 23, 2009, was order to report to prison on April 8.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Bristol Police Department, the Hartford Police Department, the Connecticut State Police Firearms Trafficking Task Force and the Connecticut State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Freimann.
The Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, and improving the safety of residents of Connecticut’s cities. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods