News and Press Releases

Western Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Maximizing Enforcement Efforts to Prevent Gun Violence and Prosecute Gun Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2013

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Western Pennsylvania law enforcement will continue to vigorously enforce federal and state firearms laws that target prohibited possessors, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, ATF Acting Asst. Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson and others announced at a news conference today.

"Western Pennsylvania law enforcement stands united in our determination to maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime," said U.S. Attorney Hickton. "It's time to shed light on those who lie to obtain firearms for criminals, and drug users who illegally possess guns, often to trade them for drugs."

"These indictments and subsequent arrests send a clear-cut message that ATF will investigate and arrest you if you purchase, transfer or possess a firearm in violation of the law," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson of the ATF Philadelphia Field Division. "ATF remains dedicated to fighting violent crime, targeting the worst of the worst, and taking preventive measures to deny criminals access to firearms."

Under federal law, persons are prohibited from acquiring firearms if they

  1. have been convicted or are under indictment for a felony;
  2. are fugitives from justice;
  3. are unlawful users of or are addicted to any controlled substances;
  4. have been adjudicated as mental defectives or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution;
  5. are illegal aliens or are aliens admitted to the U.S. under a non-immigrant visa;
  6. have been dishonorably discharged from the military;
  7. have renounced their U.S. citizenship;
  8. are subject to certain domestic-violence restraining orders; or
  9. have been convicted if a domestic violence misdemeanor.

Federal charges against seven individuals were announced at today's news conference:

  • Felix Cruz, 49, formerly of Houston, Pa., was charged via indictment. On Nov. 8, 2011, Cruz possessed firearms after being convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
  • Linda Daugherty, 32, of Eighty Four, Pa., charged via indictment. According to the indictment, Daugherty, on Dec. 15, 2011, provided false information to a federal firearms licensee by indicating that she was the actual buyer of a particular firearm when she was actually acting on behalf of someone else. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
  • Jeffrey Cochenour,41, of Charleroi, Pa., charged via indictment. According to the indictment, Cochenour, on Dec. 8, 2011, provided false information to a federal firearms licensee by indicating that he was the actual buyer of a particular firearm when he was actually acting on behalf of someone else. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
  • Ronald DeGrange, 46, of Monongahela, Pa., charge via indictment. According to the indictment, DeGrange, on Dec. 6, 2011, provided false information to a federal firearms licensee by indicating that he was the actual buyer of a particular firearm when he was actually acting on behalf of someone else and by indicating that he was not an unlawful user of, or addicted to, a controlled substance when he knew that he was an unlawful user of, or addicted to, a controlled substance. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
  • Charles Warner, 26, of 230 Lombard Street, Pittsburgh, Pa., charged via indictment. According to the eight-count indictment, on or about July 19, 2009, and on or about October 9, 2009, Warner made false statements to a federal firearms licensee in connection with his purchase of two firearms. According to the indictment, on those dates, Warner also was a fugitive from justice, had pending felony drug and firearms charges, and was an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances when he possessed those firearms. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
  • Michael Howard, 28 of Venetia, Pa., charged via indictment. According to the three-count indictment, Howard, on March 6, 2010, and again on July 29, 2010, provided false information to a federal firearms licensee. In addition, according to the indictment, from March 6, 2010, to May 16, 2012, Howard possessed firearms while using or being addicted to a controlled substance. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $750,000, or both.
  • Eric Beverly, 19, of 259 Fern Street, Pittsburgh, Pa., charged via indictment. According to the two-count indictment, from in or around June 2012, and continuing thereafter to on or about July 27, 2012, Beverly conspired with a known individual to falsify firearms transaction records in connection with the purchase of two firearms. Specifically, the individual indicated on the records that the firearms were being purchased for herself when, in truth, the firearms were being purchased for Beverly who was prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms due to his age. Additionally, on or about July 13, 2012, Beverly aided and abetted the individual in falsifying the firearms transaction records. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Beverly is a fugitive.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Craig W. Haller, Troy Rivetti, Charles Eberle and John Valkovci, Jr., are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the United States.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and others investigated these case. These cases are being prosecuted under Project Safe Neighborhoods, a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent, deter, and prosecute gun crime.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

State charges against 10 individuals were announced today, as well:

  • Bradley Kompa, 32, of Bethel Park, false written statement to a FFL, specifically concerning drug use;
  • Rose Mary Washington, 38, of Uniontown, Pa., false written statement to a FFL, specifically concerning the owner of the firearm;
  • John Irwin Moeller, 47, of Canonsburg, Pa.,a prohibited person in possession of a firearm;
  • Eric Beverly, 19, of Pittsburgh, Pa., conspiracy to straw purchase, and straw purchase.
  • Dennis Steaves, Indiana County, Pa.
  • Shakyl Black, 20, of Wilkinsburg, Pa., conspiracy to straw purchase;
  • Andre Embry, 24, of Duquesne, Pa., conspiracy to straw purchase;
  • Nicholas Vesely, 31, of Export, Pa., conspiracy to straw purchase, and straw purchase.
  • Cynthia Joann Wiley, 28, of California, false statement to a FFL, specifically concerning the owner of the firearms.
  • Olga Rivera, 49, of Houston, Pa., false statement to a FFL, specifically concerning drug use; straw purchase; and unlawfully transferred to a prohibited person.

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