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Press Release

Man Sentenced for Illegally Straw Purchasing Multiple Firearms

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Washington, D.C. man was sentenced today to one year in prison for aiding and abetting the illegal straw purchase of five firearms.

According to court documents, Manuel Christopher Thomas, 28, and Paul Laurence Chambers, 21, aided and abetted the straw purchase of five firearms from federal firearm licensees in the Eastern District of Virginia by providing Joni Maria Metcalf, 35, money and explicitly directing her as to which firearms to illegally purchase on their behalf.  Police in Washington, D.C. recovered one of the illegally purchased firearms from Thomas 11 days after it was straw purchased.

Previously, Chambers, also from Maryland, was sentenced to 9 months in prison for his role in this coordinated scheme to illegally straw purchase firearms.

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 sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas U. Murphy II and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Kringer prosecuted 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-019.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Public Affairs

Updated July 14, 2020

Project Guardian
Firearms Offenses