U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
August 27, 2012
Convicted Felon Detained on Federal Charges in Alleged Straw-buying Scheme to Purchase and Stockpile Firearms
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A four-time convicted felon who allegedly helped orchestrate the straw-purchase of 10 firearms and a significant quantity of ammunition from a federally licensed firearms dealer in Wyoming, R.I., has been ordered detained on federal firearm charges. Peter A. Laporte, 47, of Warwick, was arrested on Thursday by federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as he exited the firearms dealer’s business.
According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed with the federal court, Laporte allegedly wanted to stockpile firearms, ammunition and other supplies in preparation for “doomsday.”
Laporte’s arrest was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge ATF’s Boston Field Office; Richmond Police Chief Elwood M. Johnson, Jr.; and Warwick Police Chief Colonel Stephen M. McCartney.
“People often wonder how so many guns land in the hands of criminals. This is how. Lying and buying, as alleged here, occurs for only one reason: to deliver guns to people barred by federal law from having them, often because they are a demonstrable threat to public safety,” said United States Attorney Peter Neronha. “Combatting illegal gun trafficking, and gun violence generally, will continue to be a top priority of this Office. I want to thank Colonel McCartney and Chief Johnson for working so closely with this Office and ATF on this important investigation.”
According to the affidavit, an investigation by an ATF agent revealed that on July 30, 2012, Laporte allegedly accompanied his wife to the firearms dealer and advised her on several purchases of firearms she made, including included four 9mm pistols, a .357 revolver, two semi-automatic assault rifles, a Remington 30-6 rifle and two shotguns. The couple also allegedly ordered more than 750 rounds of ammunition. The firearms were allegedly picked-up by the couple two weeks later. Laporte allegedly paid for the entire transaction, $6,878.63, in cash. Laporte allegedly returned to the dealer again on Thursday and picked-up ammunition that was previously ordered. He was arrested as he exited the business.
Nine of the firearms allegedly purchased on July 30, 2012, 1,000 rounds of assault rifle ammunition and other items were seized by federal agents on Thursday during an authorized search of a garage and trailer in Warwick rented by Laporte. An authorized search of Laporte and his wife’s residence resulted in the seizure of the 10th firearm purchased on July 30, another rifle, and numerous jars containing marijuana. According to the affidavit, Laporte’s wife allegedly told investigators that she occasionally used marijuana.
Peter Laporte is charged in a criminal complaint with felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and selling or disposing of a firearm or ammunition to an unlawful user of a controlled substance. A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah.
United States Attorney Peter Neronha acknowledged the assistance of the Richmond and Warwick Police Departments in the investigation of this matter and the resulting arrest of the Laporte.