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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 20, 2021

Former Police Officer Who Fled After Sentencing Pleads Guilty to Failing to Surrender for Sentencing

Piccirilli Fled the State with Girlfriend After His Sentencing Hearing and Obtained More Illegal Firearms

Baltimore, Maryland – James Ian Piccirilli, age 40, of Mt. Airy, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to failing to surrender for service of sentence. Piccirilli also admitted to illegally possessing additional firearms while on the run.

The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Tim Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and U.S. Marshal Johnny Hughes.

According to his guilty plea, on January 14, 2020, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker sentenced Piccirilli to 30 months’ imprisonment for possessing an unregistered fully automatic firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act (“NFA”). 

The National Firearms Act regulates certain firearms, known as “NFA firearms,” such as short-barreled rifles; fully automatic firearms; firearms that can be readily made fully automatic; parts that can make a firearm fully automatic; and silencers.  Individuals may not possess an NFA firearm that is not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR), nor can a person sell or transfer an NFA firearm without the prior approval of the ATF.

According to his November 2019 guilty plea, on October 5, 2018, Piccirilli took an MKE 5.56mm caliber firearm, which had been altered to convert it into a fully automatic short-barreled rifle, bringing the firearm under the regulation of the NFA, to the home of another individual, who was a licensed gun dealer in Maryland.  Piccirilli, formerly a police officer in Brunswick, Maryland, legally owned non-NFA firearms and had the skill and expertise to convert non-NFA firearms into NFA firearms. 

Piccirilli admitted that the firearm belonged to him, but it was not registered to him, in violation of the NFA. According to information presented to the Court, Piccirilli tried to launder the unregistered firearm by attempting to have the gun dealer register the illegal firearm and/or sell it, so that the sale of the gun would appear to be legal. In December 2018, Piccirilli attempted to sell the firearm to an ATF undercover agent without ATF’s prior approval and in text messages and recorded calls tried to conceal the nature of the transaction.  On December 14, 2018, as Piccirilli left his house to complete the transaction, he was apprehended by ATF agents.  Investigators executed search warrants on his house and two vehicles, seizing 10 unregistered fully automatic firearms, one unregistered short-barreled rifle, and seven unregistered silencers.

The District Court ordered Piccirilli to surrender by 2:00 p.m. on March 16, 2020, to begin serving his sentence.  The Court communicated the order to Piccirilli orally during the sentencing hearing and in writing in his judgment. Piccirilli’s girlfriend, Kellie Nicole Warfield, age 30, of Mt. Airy, Maryland was present at the January sentencing hearing.

As stated in his September 2021 plea agreement, on January 24, 2020, Piccirilli’s probation officer received an alert that Piccirilli had disabled his ankle monitor and had failed to return home by his curfew. Soon after, law enforcement discovered that Piccirilli and Warfield disposed of their cell phones and sold their vehicle.

As a part of their investigation, ATF investigators and U.S. Marshals interviewed family members, friends, and associates of the couple. As a result of gathered intelligence, investigators discovered that the couple relocated to Ramsey, Indiana.

Further investigation revealed Warfield received Kansas temporary tags for a truck that she and Piccirilli purchased while evading law enforcement. Subsequently, in September 2020, Warfield used her real personal information to apply for an Indiana driver’s license and registration for the truck.

As stated in his plea agreement, on October 13, 2020, investigators arrested Piccirilli and Warfield at a New Salisbury, Indiana restaurant where Warfield worked.  At the time, the couple was living in a camper attached to a truck. 

As a result of search warrants executed on the truck and camper, law enforcement recovered a 9 mm caliber pistol bearing no serial number, loaded with a full magazine of ammunition, two fully loaded magazines, a A-15 .223/5.56mm caliber rifle, and additional rounds of ammunition.  The rifle had a selector switch, converted it into a fully automatic rifle, bringing the firearm under the regulation of the NFA.

 In addition, a witness informed investigators that Piccirilli identified himself under the alias of “Jack Davis” and, at one point, asked her to hold a 9 mm caliber pistol and silencer. The witness possessed a bag containing the firearm and silencer belonging to Piccirilli. The silencer lacked a serial number, as required by the NFA.  Piccirilli had no NFA firearms registered to him in the NFRTR.

Piccirilli agrees that he was on release for another criminal charge and that he was required by court order to surrender for service of sentence by March 16, 2020.  Despite being aware of that requirement, he knowingly and willfully failed to surrender.  In addition, he agrees that he knowingly possessed NFA firearms that were not registered to him in the NFRTR.  He knew that those objects were NFA firearms.

Piccirilli and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Piccirilli will be sentenced to between 30 to 46 months in federal prison.  U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for November 19, 2021 at 10 a.m. 

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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) 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.

This case is also 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; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.  For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.        

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the Baltimore and Louisville ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, the Southeast Indiana Regional SWAT Team, and the Indiana State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon K. Moore and Patricia McLane, who are prosecuting the case.

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Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Alexis Abbott (301) 653-0285
Updated September 20, 2021