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Press Release

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Using Straw Purchaser to Illegally Buy 33 Firearms in Virginia

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Temple Hills, Maryland man pleaded guilty today to aiding and abetting the straw purchase of 33 guns from Virginia firearms dealers.

According to court documents, Melvin Plowden, 34, a convicted felon, arranged for a co-conspirator with no prior felony convictions to purchase firearms on Plowden’s behalf, which Plowden resold. Plowden instructed the co-conspirator on which firearms to purchase and gave him money to pay for the firearms.

Between October 2019 and June 2020, the co-conspirator purchased 33 firearms from federal firearms dealers in Virginia, all on Plowden’s behalf. Of the firearms straw-purchased by the co-conspirator, 17 have been recovered in connection with criminal activity or from individuals prohibited from possessing the firearms, including Plowden. In June 2020, Plowden was arrested following an incident in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and one of the straw-purchased firearms was found in his possession.

Plowden is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Craig Kailimai, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina C. Stam and Megan Braun are prosecuting the case.

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 of Justice 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.

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. 1:23-cr-198.


Press Officer

Updated February 27, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses