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Press Release

Kingsport Woman Sentenced to 21 Months For Lying On ATF Form To Purchase Firearms And Providing Firearms To A Felon

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

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On May 1, 2023, Tonya Rae Saine, also known as Tonya Rae Bowles, 56, currently of Kingsport, Tennessee, was sentenced to 21 months in prison by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville. 

Saine was found guilty of Making a False and Fictitious Written Statement to a Licensed Dealer of Firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) and Disposing of a Firearm to a Convicted Felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(1) by a federal jury in December 2022.  Following her release from imprisonment, Saine will be on supervised release for 3 years. 

According to filed court documents and evidence presented at trial, on September 4, 2021, Saine traveled to the business premises of a Federal Firearms Licensee (“FFL”) in Sevierville, TN. While at the FFLs gun counter, she and another person (a convicted felon)  looked at several firearms before selecting two firearms – a pistol and a rifle, to purchase. Saine, who was not prohibited from purchasing a firearm, completed the required paperwork using her information and paid for the two firearms. She also purchased a laser aiming device for the pistol.

Surveillance video from the FFL showed Saine at the FFL’s gun counter handing the firearms to the felon who was accompanying her and, after she completed the purchase, the felon leaving the FFL’s premises while carrying one of the firearms. Saine admitted to law enforcement that she had met the felon while she was a contract employee of the Tennessee Department of Correction, and that the felon was incarcerated on a felony conviction at the prison where she had worked as a nurse. She also admitted that she was in a relationship with the felon, knew he was a felon, and that he had traveled to and from the FFLs premises with her. 

Law enforcement also recovered a text message from a cell phone that Saine sent the felon after the purchase of the firearms that said, “I’ve got your gun and stuff in the house.” A cooperating witness testified that they saw the felon with the pistol and were able to recognize the firearm because of the attached laser aiming device and distinctive markings on the firearm.

U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III of the Eastern District of Tennessee; and ATF Special Agent in Charge Marcus S. Watson made the announcement.

The criminal indictment was the result of an investigation by the Kingsport Police Department and ATF. This investigation was led by ATF Task Force Officer Mike Slater.

Assistant United States Attorney B. Todd Martin and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Blake Watson represented the United States.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.



Rachelle Barnes
Public Affairs Officer
(865) 545-4167

Updated May 11, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses