News and Press Releases

Man Purchased Assault Rifle – Failed to Disclose Court Ordered Firearm Prohibition

September 28, 2007

AARON ELLIOTT HAYES, 45, of Puyallup, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma by Judge Ronald B. Leighton, to sixteen (16) months in prison and three years of supervised release for Making False Statements to a Federal Firearms Licensee. Judge Leighton also imposed a $15,000 fine on the former licensed real estate agent. Judge Leighton ordered HAYES immediately into custody, acknowledging concerns that HAYES might attempt to retaliate against those he felt wronged him. Before imposing the sentence, Judge Leighton said, “I take this, in light of all the circumstances surrounding this case, as a very serious offense.”

HAYES pleaded guilty May 11, 2007, admitting that in October 2005, he lied on a form he filled out at Big 5 Sporting Goods in Tacoma when he purchased an SKS (AK-47 style) assault rifle. HAYES falsely claimed on the form that he was not subject to a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner. In fact, at the time HAYES filled out the form, he was subject to a protection order sought by his first ex-wife in California. That court order prohibited him from purchasing or possessing firearms. HAYES is now the subject of a second protective order, through April 2008, regarding his second estranged wife here in Washington State.

In arguing for a sentence at the top of the guidelines range, prosecutors wrote that HAYES’ history shows that this crime was very serious, especially since he purchased the gun while embroiled in a second acrimonious divorce. “Hayes is not the docile and law-abiding man that he presents himself to be whenever he so desires. Beneath the charming personality that he can apparently turn on and off like a switch, lurks an apparently unstable, threatening, vindictive, and dangerously violent person,” Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Gruber wrote in his sentencing memo.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Leighton specifically noted that HAYES “has had at least three No Contact Orders against him.” Further stating that, “Mr. Hayes does not always respond well when angry or under stress,” Judge Leighton expressed his belief that there was a “high likelihood that Mr. Hayes is a dangerous person.”

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Gruber.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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