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Press Release

Ellington Man Sentenced to 61 Months in Federal Prison for Stealing Firearm, Selling it to Heroin Dealer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JUSTIN ASHLINE, 25, of Ellington, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 61 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for stealing a firearm and selling it to his heroin dealer.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in on May 23, 2014, the ATF, DEA and Hartford Police executed a federal search warrant at the Hartford residence of Roman Pantojas, who was known to be an armed heroin dealer.  During the search, officers seized approximately 700 baggies of heroin, two loaded handguns and Pantojas’s cellular telephone.

The investigation revealed that one of the seized firearms, a Ruger .357 caliber revolver, was registered to an individual in Westbrook.  In an interview with Connecticut State Police, the firearm owner stated that he had just discovered that the revolver had been stolen from his truck.  He also stated ASHLINE had been his employee.

Analysis of the cellular telephone seized from Pantojas revealed approximately 72 incoming and outgoing calls between the phone and a number that was registered to ASHLINE.

In an interview with law enforcement, ASHLINE admitted that he stole the firearm and sold it to Pantojas in exchange for approximately 20 baggies of heroin and between $70 and $100 in cash.

ASHLINE has four prior felony convictions, including one for sale of narcotics and one for first degree larceny.  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.

ASHLINE was arrested on June 19, 2014.  On January 13, 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

ASHLINE was detained from the date of his arrest until June 2015 when he was released into an inpatient drug treatment program.  He was remanded to custody on October 6, 2015, after he tested positive for opiates, was terminated from his drug treatment program and his bond was revoked.

ASHLINE was transferred into state custody where he is serving an unrelated 30-month state sentence, which is scheduled to expire in July 2018.  He will serve an additional 13 months of federal imprisonment when he released from state custody.

This matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Connecticut State Police and the Hartford Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Spector.

Updated April 25, 2016

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