Defendant Sentenced for Illegally Buying and Transporting Guns to Buffalo, New York
Firearms That Charles Horton Acquired Using Straw Purchasers
Were Later Recovered from Buffalo Crime Scenes
ATLANTA - Charles Horton, 36, of Buffalo, New York, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. to serve over 17 years in federal prison for the offenses of being a felon in possession of firearms, transporting guns from Georgia to New York without a license, and using straw purchasers to make false statements to gun dealers.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said that, “Horton persuaded four women, one of whom was homeless, to buy twenty firearms on his behalf, and when he learned he was under investigation, he attempted to tamper with a witness who agreed to testify against him at trial. Law enforcement officers later recovered some of these firearms at crime scenes in the Buffalo area, including at the scene of a murder.”
“Gun traffickers commit a worse crime than the illegal purchase, sale and transportation of firearms. These criminals provide an iron pipeline of potentially deadly weapons for their own selfish profit at the expense of law abiding citizens and their families,” said Scott Sweetow, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in Atlanta. “The unlawful trafficking in firearms is a serious crime which feeds and amplifies the violence experienced in so many cities today. I applaud the efforts of the agents and the prosecutors who brought the Mr. Horton to justice.”
Horton was sentenced to 17 years, 1 month in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Horton was convicted of these charges on May 18, 2012, after a trial.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Horton, a convicted felon who was prohibited by federal and state law from possessing firearms, recruited four women to act as straw purchasers and buy a total of twenty firearms on his behalf. Horton gave the straw purchasers the money for the guns, drove them to various gun stores in Georgia and South Carolina, and told them which firearms to purchase. At the time of the gun sales, the straw purchasers falsely claimed that they were buying the guns for themselves. Horton was captured in video surveillance footage as he escorted three of the women to several gun stores. A tip from a gun dealer about a car tag resulted in ATF determining that during the time of the straw purchases Horton used various rental cars to travel back and forth between Buffalo and Atlanta on multiple occasions. Law enforcement officers subsequently recovered these weapons at crime scenes in Buffalo, New York. When Horton learned that he was the subject of an investigation by ATF, he attempted to interfere with the investigation by asking one of the straw purchasers to falsely claim that the guns he purchased through the straw buyers had been stolen. Unbeknownst to Horton, the straw purchaser was cooperating with the ATF.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Plummer and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Luke Jones prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.