CHICAGO — A man has been charged with a federal firearm offense for allegedly “straw purchasing” guns in Indiana on behalf of a convicted felon in Chicago.
On three occasions this summer, BRIAN HAYWOOD purchased guns from stores in Hammond, Ind., and falsely certified on federal forms that he was the actual buyer, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In reality, Haywood purchased the guns on behalf of a convicted felon from Chicago whom Haywood knew was prohibited from legally purchasing firearms on his own, the complaint states. The felon directed Haywood to buy certain firearms that he wanted and then provided him with the purchase money and an additional fee of $250 per gun, according to the charges.
The complaint charges Haywood, 24, of Hammond, Ind., with one count of knowingly selling and disposing of a firearm to a convicted felon.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Albert Berry III.
“Straw purchasers play a grave role in enabling the unlawful possession of guns and the senseless violence that can follow,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Our office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to stop the flow of guns to individuals who cannot legally possess them.”
"Straw buyers undermine the rule of law, putting guns into the hands of convicted felons,” said FBI SAC Buie. “The FBI will never stop working with our partners to prevent gun-based violence and make our streets safer."
The case was brought under Operation Legend, a Department of Justice initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement to fight violent crime. As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General William P. Barr directed ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and DEA to significantly increase resources in Chicago to help state and local officials fight violent crime, particularly firearm offenses.
The complaint describes three alleged straw purchases in Indiana this summer – on July 30, Aug. 5, and Aug. 20. Unbeknownst to Haywood, the felon from Chicago for whom Haywood bought the guns was surreptitiously cooperating with law enforcement.
The complaint also details a fourth firearm transaction, during which Haywood and another man – MARQUEES FRENCH, 24, of Hammond, Ind. – allegedly sold a semi-automatic handgun to the cooperating felon on the South Side of Chicago on Aug. 25, 2020. The transaction occurred in a retail store parking lot in the 9500 block of South Ashland Avenue, the complaint states. Law enforcement arrested Haywood and French after the deal was conducted and the pair was attempting to drive out of the parking lot, the complaint states.
French was charged with the same offense as Haywood.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The charge in the complaint is punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.