States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|June 30, 2010||
STRATFORD RESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY TO FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES TRAFFICKING CHARGES
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that EDWIN T. WESTMORELAND, 28, of Stratford, pleaded guilty yesterday, June 29, before United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to one count of sale of a firearm to a convicted felon, and one count of conspiracy to sell firearms to a convicted felon and to make and transfer unregistered firearms consisting of explosive grenades.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on the evening of March 9, 2009, WESTMORELAND, two alleged co-conspirators and a third individual identified as “Witness A” met in Milford where they negotiated a firearm sale to Witness A. WESTMORELAND and his alleged co-conspirators then sawed off the barrel of a rifle and sold it to Witness A for $300. During the negotiations, Witness A stated to the conspirators that he was a convicted felon. Witness A had previously met WESTMORELAND and the others by attending meetings or protests organized by the Connecticut White Wolves, a self-described white supremacist organization. Witness A had told WESTMORELAND’s two alleged co-conspirators that he was a member of a Midwestern white supremacist organization, and that this group was interested in obtaining firearms.
In the spring and summer after the March 2009 firearm sale, one of WESTMORELAND’s alleged co-conspirators had a series of discussions with Witness A in which he offered to supply firearms and explosive devices to Witness A’s “people.” On November 11, 2009, the co-conspirator advised Witness A that he and WESTMORELAND had two firearms for sale. That evening, the co-conspirator instructed Witness A to drive him to WESTMORELAND’s Stratford residence where WESTMORELAND and the co-conspirator sold Witness A a rifle and a shotgun. During the exchange, Witness A asked if he could “get in trouble for having this in my car,” and reiterated “I’m a felon.”
On January 23, 2010, WESTMORELAND and his alleged co-conspirator met with Witness A to complete the assembly and sale of three explosive grenades, a transaction that Witness A and the co-conspirator had discussed over several months. WESTMORELAND, having purchased several dozen 20-gauge shotguns shells, cut open the shotgun shells at his alleged co-conspirator’s Milford residence and extracted the explosive powder, which the co-conspirator used to complete the assembly of the live grenades. After Witness A paid the co-conspirator for the grenades, the co-conspirator paid WESTMORELAND $100.
Judge Hall has scheduled sentencing for September 17, 2010, at which time WESTMORELAND faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
On March 18, 2010, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned a seven-count indictment charging WESTMORELAND and four others with conspiracy, firearms trafficking and explosives trafficking offenses related to this scheme. As to the four defendants who are currently awaiting trial, U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, notably the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Federal Air Marshal Service, with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; the U.S. Army, Criminal Investigation Command, and the Milford, Ansonia, Stratford and New Haven Police Departments.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Henry K. Kopel and Department of Justice Trial Attorney David Cora.
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