Leland Man Sentenced Following Attempt to Illegally Obtain Firearms
NEW BERN — The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced Howard Joseph Burchfield, 36, of Leland to 15 months’ imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release. On October 18, 2018, Burchfield pled guilty to one count of making a false statement to a licensed firearm dealer.
The investigation revealed that on July 13, 2010, a judge for the Circuit Court of the First Judicial Circuit in and for Escambia County, Florida ordered that BURCHFIELD be involuntarily committed to a mental institution for a period of up to six months due to mental illness and threats of harm to others. In addition, on February 5, 2013, the 17th District Court in Brighton, Colorado, adjudicated BURCHFIELD as mentally defective. This mental health history rendered BURCHFIELD ineligible to possess firearms.
BURCHFIELD, nonetheless, tried to purchase at least five firearms from 2015 to 2018. In particular, on April 1, 2017, BURCHFIELD attempted to purchase a Remington 12-gauge shotgun at a Wal-Mart in Shallote, North Carolina. In doing so, he completed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, the over the counter firearm transaction record. Question 11.f of the form asked, “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” Contrary to his history, BURCHFIELD checked the “No” box and signed the form, indicating that all his answers were true, correct, and complete.
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 our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Since 2017 the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh is prosecuting the case for the government.