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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two New York Residents Indicted On Charges Related To Theft Of Firearms From Pennsylvania Gun Stores

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Ben McCormack, age 31, Jamestown, New York and Jason William Thorne, age 36, also from New York, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Scranton in connection with a series of break-ins at federally-licensed gun stores in North Central Pennsylvania within the past month. 

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, McCormack and Thorne are charged with conspiracy to steal and unlawfully possess firearms from the inventories of licensed gun stores.  On or about May 29, 2016, McCormack and an unindicted co-conspirator allegedly broke into Arrowhead Outdoors, a gun store in Tionesta, Pennsylvania and stole approximately 28 firearms. On or about June 17, 2016, McCormack and Thorne allegedly stole approximately 36 firearms from GNR Sporting Goods in Mansfield.  On or about June 20, 2016, McCormack and an unindicted co-conspirator allegedly broke into and stole approximately 29 firearms from Fulmer’s Sporting Goods in Wysox Township. 

In separate counts of the indictment McCormack and Thorne are charged individually with possession of stolen firearms and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.

Agents from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took McCormack into custody in New York on June 21, 2016.  After an initial hearing before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Buffalo, New York, McCormack was ordered to be transported to the Middle District of Pennsylvania for further proceedings.  A criminal complaint was issued on June 21, 2016 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito, Jr. in the Middle District of Pennsylvania charging that McCormack with alleged possession of stolen firearms and for illegal possession of firearms by a convicted felon.  Thorne is presently in custody in New York on state charges. 

The investigation by ATF is continuing in cooperation with the United States Attorney’s Offices in the Western District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania.  At the present time, approximately 55 of the stolen firearms have been recovered by investigators. 

“Gun thieves are a principal source of weapons that make their way into the hands of criminals.  Stolen guns are quickly dispensed through underground transactions and the cycle of violence is initiated,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Sam Rabadi. “I commend the diligent work of the investigators from ATF, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Jamestown Police Department in New York, in this ongoing, wide-ranging and multi-jurisdictional investigation.  Their outstanding investigative efforts led to the recovery of at least 55 of the stolen firearms that were destined for our communities and led to the swift identifications and arrests of those involved in these gun store burglaries.”

The investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Jamestown, New York Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Rocktashel and John Gurganus.

Anyone having information regarding the gun store burglaries should call the ATF 24/7 hotline at 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477) or email: ATFTips@atf.gov

Indictments and Criminal Complaints 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.

McCormack faces a maximum penalty of 55 years of imprisonment, and Thorne faces a maximum penalty of 35 years of imprisonment.  Both also face 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 June 28, 2016