Four Facing Federal Firearms Charges Following Recent Gun Store Burglaries
Approximately 125 Firearms Stolen from Five Area Gun Store
Four Nashville men were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday and charged with federal firearms offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee. Three are charged with multiple firearms offenses, including conspiracy to steal and sell stolen firearms, and one is charged with possession of a stolen firearm.
Keith Swanson, aka “Lil Keith,” 22; James D. Hudgens, 26; Karshma F. Dardy, Jr., 20; all of Nashville, Tennessee, are charged with with conspiracy to steal, possess and sell stolen firearms, all of which were recently stolen during five separate gun store burglaries in the middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky area. Keshawn Martin, 19, also of Nashville, is charged in a separate indictment with possession of a stolen firearm. The indictment also charges Swanson, Hudgens and Dardy Jr. with possessing stolen firearms and unlawfully engaging in the business of selling firearms.
“We realize that the recent rash of gun store burglaries and the substantial number of stolen guns potentially getting into the wrong hands have placed our communities at significant risk,” said U.S. Attorney Cochran. “I commend the ATF and our local law enforcement partners for their swift action in identifying those responsible and recovering many of these stolen firearms. We will continue to aggressively to pursue others who are involved in these crimes as well as other gun store thefts not addressed here today.”
According to the charging documents, between January 10, 2018 and February 18, 2018, five gun stores were burglarized, resulting in the theft of approximately 125 firearms:
Whittaker Gun Store, located in Owensboro, Kentucky was burglarized on January 10, 2018, and approximately 63 firearms were stolen; Wheeler’s Fastway Gun and Pawn, located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was burglarized on January 17, 2018, and approximately 26 firearms were stolen; Kwik Cash Pawn Shop, located in Smyrna, Tennessee, was burglarized on January 19, 2018, and eight firearms were stolen; King’s Firearms and More, located in Columbia, Tennessee, was burglarized on February 13, 2018, and approximately 24 firearms were stolen; and on February 18, 2018, approximately 12 firearms were stolen during a burglary at Guns and Gear, located in Paris, Tennessee.
According to the indictments and other court documents, beginning in January 2018, Keith Swanson and others began recruiting individuals, including juveniles, to participate in burglaries of area gun stores. During the investigation of these burglaries and as the thefts continued to occur, agents found several “for sale” listings of similar firearms on the website, “Armslist.com.” Undercover agents were subsequently able to purchase several of the stolen firearms from James Hudgens and Keith Swanson and identify Keith Swanson as the person Hudgens was in frequent contact with when negotiating the sale of the firearms. Hudgens and Swanson were charged in a criminal complaint on February 23, 2018, and taken into federal custody.
Court documents also reflect that on February 23, 2018, agents interviewed Karshma Dardy, Jr., who was in custody at the Sumner County Jail on car-jacking charges. Agents were able to develop enough information to implicate his participation in some of the gun store burglaries and Dardy Jr. was subsequently charged in a federal criminal complaint on February 28, 2018.
Keshawn Martin was also charged in a federal criminal complaint on March 9, 2018, after being a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over by Metropolitan Nashville police officers the previous day. According to the complaint, Martin fled on foot before being captured by police. When he was apprehended, a pistol was protruding from Martin’s pants pocket. This pistol was later determined to have been stolen during the burglary from King’s Firearms on February 13, 2018.
“Reducing violent crime and removing dangerous criminals from our communities is ATF’s top priority,” said Acting ATF Special Agent in Charge Jack Webb. “We will continue our collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as we strive to provide a safe environment for the public.”
If convicted, the defendants face up to 5 years in prison for the conspiracy charge; up to 5 years in prison for selling firearms without a license; and up to 10 years in prison for possessing stolen firearms; and a $250,000 fine.
This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Metropolitan Nashville Police Department; the 18th Judicial District Drug Task Force; the Hendersonville Police Department; the Gallatin Police Department; the Henry County Sheriff’s Office; the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office; and the Davies County, Kentucky Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Siji Moore is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.