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Press Release

Luzerne County Woman Indicted For Straw Purchases Of Firearms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Laquanna Bacote, age 25, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was indicted on October 1, 2019, by a federal grand jury for her role in a scheme to illegally obtain firearms from federally licensed gun dealers.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Bacote conspired with others to make false statements on federal firearms forms to purchase firearms and unlawfully obtain firearms from H & H Tactical in Exeter, Pennsylvania, NJT Arms in Northampton, Pennsylvania, and The Army & Navy Store in Whitehall, Pennsylvania. The indictment alleges that the conspiracy began in or about April 2019, and continues to the present. Bacote is also charged with a substantive count of making a false statements in connection with the purchase of three firearms from H & H Tactical in Exeter on April 23, 2019.

The matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa is 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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law for the substantive offense is 10 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. The maximum penalty for the conspiracy offense is five years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.


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Updated October 3, 2019

Project Safe Neighborhoods