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Press Release

Man Pleads Guilty to Straw Purchasing Three Firearms

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Emporia man pleaded guilty today to straw purchasing three firearms.

According to court documents, Corey O’Neal Phipps, Jr., 23, straw purchased three firearms from a federal firearms licensee (FFL) in the Eastern District of Virginia for another individual. In making the purchase, Phipps, Jr. represented himself as the true buyer of the firearms, but immediately after he received the firearms, he transferred them to another individual and was paid for making the purchase.

Phipps, Jr. pleaded guilty to making false statements with respect to the purchase of a firearm. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on Dec. 2. 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 Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.


G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr. accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael C. Tucker and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia T. Giles 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. 1:20-cr-108.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Public Affairs

Updated August 10, 2020

Project Guardian
Firearms Offenses