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Press Release

Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Purchasing 20 Firearms

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Maryland man pleaded guilty today to 10 counts of making false statements to acquire firearms.     

“Yesterday in Washington, D.C., I stood alongside federal and local law enforcement leaders and affirmed our commitment to prosecuting the illegal purchase and transportation of firearms,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case is representative of that commitment: We will continue to use federal firearms laws to hold individuals accountable for coming into Virginia to illegally purchase firearms. Every illegally purchased firearm is a gun that can wind up in the hands of a prohibited person and poses a significant danger to law enforcement and our communities.”

According to court documents, between November 2018 and April 2019, Quayshawn Shymel Simmons, 28, of Baltimore, purchased 20 firearms from Federal Firearm Licensees in Virginia using a false address in Hampton. Police in Washington, D.C. have recovered some of the firearms Simmons purchased from other individuals, including individuals convicted of a felony and/or in possession of distribution quantities of Oxycodone and crack cocaine at the time of their arrest. 

“This case perfectly highlights why ATF will continue working diligently to combat firearms trafficking to curb violent crime,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict of the Washington Field Division. “Gun traffickers are not simply committing paperwork violations.  These criminals put guns in the hands of serious criminals who pose a significant threat to the safety of our communities. We are putting all gun traffickers on notice that we will find you; you will be held accountable; and you will be punished under the law.”

Simmons pleaded guilty to making false statements and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on October 25. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas U. Murphy II and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Annie Zanobini are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-181.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Public Affairs

Updated July 26, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods