BRIDGEPORT MEN CHARGED WITH FEDERAL OFFENSES STEMMING FROM THEFT OF 111 SMITH & WESSON FIREARMS
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned a seven-count indictment yesterday charging ELLIOT PEREZ, 27, and MICHAEL MURPHY, 24, both of Bridgeport, with federal offenses stemming from the theft of 111 firearms from the Smith & Wesson manufacturing plant in Springfield, Mass.
The indictment alleges that on November 8, 2012, PEREZ, a truck driver for a private trucking company, picked up five boxes of firearms from the Smith & Wesson manufacturing plant in Springfield and placed the boxes in his truck. At the same time, PEREZ took three additional boxes containing a total of 111 firearms and placed them in his truck. PEREZ then drove the truck to his residence in Bridgeport where he met with MURPHY. A short time later, PEREZ delivered the original five boxes of firearms to the trucking company’s distribution center in Stratford.
The indictment further alleges that on November 15, 2012, PEREZ and MURPHY sold one of the stolen handguns to another individual.
On November 20, 2012, when interviewed by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), it is alleged that PEREZ falsely stated that a “black male” at Smith & Wesson’s manufacturing plant told PEREZ which boxes he was supposed to load onto his truck. PEREZ also stated that he delivered all of the firearms that he picked up from the Smith & Wesson plant to the trucking company’s distribution center in Stratford.
On November 24, 2012, it is alleged that MURPHY secreted in his father’s Bridgeport residence a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol that had been stolen on November 8.
The indictment alleges that prior to November 8, PEREZ had sustained multiple felony convictions, including convictions for larceny and burglary, and that MURPHY had sustained a felony conviction for burglary. It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.
The indictment charges PEREZ and MURPHY with one count of conspiracy to possess and sell stolen firearms, one count of possession of stolen firearms, one count of trafficking in stolen firearms and one count of possession of firearms by a previously convicted felon. In addition, PEREZ is charged with two counts of making a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer. If convicted on all counts, PEREZ and MURPHY face maximum terms of imprisonment of 45 years and 35 years, respectively.
PEREZ and MURPHY were originally arrested by the Stratford Police Department on state firearms charges. PEREZ has been in state custody since his arrest on November 23, and MURPHY has been detained in federal custody since November 30 when he was arrested on a federal criminal complaint.
A portion of the stolen firearms have been recovered, and the investigation is ongoing.
U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Stratford Police Department and the Bridgeport Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rahul Kale and Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Vizcarrondo.
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.
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