Two Men Charged with Federal Offenses after Investigation into Straw Purchases of Firearms
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that JAMAR SMITH, also known as “JT,” 37, of Bridgeport, and JOHN FLANNERY, III, 29, of East Hartford, have been charged with various federal offenses related to the straw purchases of firearms.
As alleged in court documents, Smith has been previously convicted in state court of multiple felony offenses and, as a convicted felon, is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition. In March 2019, Smith recruited Flannery, who had a valid Connecticut pistol permit, to purchase firearms for Smith and his associates. On three occasions in March and April 2019, Flannery purchased semiautomatic pistols at federally licensed firearms dealers in Bridgeport and East Hartford, typically with cash that Smith had given him. During each of the transactions, Flannery was required to complete an ATF Form 4473. On the forms, Flannery falsely marked “Yes” in response to the question “Are you the actual buyer of the firearm(s) listed on the form?” He also marked “No” in response to the question “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
It is alleged that Flannery provided the three firearms to Smith.
It is further alleged that, on April 17, 2019, after the Bridgeport firearms dealer had refused to sell Flannery another handgun and subsequently alerted the Connecticut State Police, Flannery unsuccessfully attempted to purchase two semiautomatic pistol at a firearms dealer in Newington.
It is also alleged that Flannery, at Smith’s direction, told the Connecticut State Police that he was purchasing firearms to start a licensed security business.
Flannery was arrested on state charges on July 23, 2019. On August 7, a grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging him with two counts of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm, and two counts of transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person. Each offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. He is released on a $100,000 bond pending trial.
On September 10, 2019, Smith was arrested on a federal criminal complaint. On September 19, a grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to make a false statement during the purchase of a firearm, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years; four counts of aiding and abetting the making of false statements during the purchase of a firearm, and three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, offenses that carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each count.
Smith appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. He has been detained since his arrest.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Connecticut State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen L. Peck.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.