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Press Release

Federal Investigation Into “Straw Purchasing” of Handguns in Wisconsin Results in Charges Against Chicago-Area Woman and Convicted Felon

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A Chicago-area woman has been charged in federal court with conspiring to “straw purchase” 19 handguns in Wisconsin on behalf of a convicted felon.  The felon was charged as part of the investigation with illegal firearm possession.

SONYA BROWN purchased the guns from licensed dealers at stores and gun shows in Wisconsin and falsely certified on federal forms that she was both a Wisconsin resident and the actual buyer of the firearms, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  In reality, Brown purchased the guns on behalf of a convicted felon with whom she resided in the Chicago area, the complaint states.  The felon – SIMONE DUNN – had previously been convicted of murder and other felonies and was not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm.  Dunn was on parole from the murder conviction when Brown purchased the guns for him earlier this year, the complaint states.

Brown, 49, of Oak Park, Ill., is charged with conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws.  Dunn, 49, of Oak Park, Ill., is charged with illegal firearm possession.  Both defendants were arrested Monday.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel A. Fuentes scheduled Brown’s detention hearing for Wednesday at 11:00 a.m., while a detention hearing for Dunn was set for Thursday at 1:00 p.m.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will seek to have both defendants remain detained pending trial.

The charges were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Christopher Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Substantial assistance was provided by the ATF Milwaukee Field Office.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Irene Hickey Sullivan.

“Straw purchasers enable the unlawful possession of firearms and the violence that too often follows,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Pasqual.  “Our office is committed to stopping the flow of guns to individuals who cannot legally possess them.”

“When firearms are diverted from the legal market to the illegal market via trafficking schemes such as straw purchasing, it threatens the safety of our communities,” said ATF SAC Amon.  “ATF will continue to investigate these important cases in coordination with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners throughout Chicagoland to ensure prohibited persons do not possess firearms.”

Disrupting illegal firearms trafficking is a centerpiece of the Chicago Firearms Trafficking Strike Force, the Department of Justice’s cross-jurisdictional strike force aimed at reducing gun violence.  As part of the Chicago Strike Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collaborates with ATF and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in the Northern District of Illinois and across the country to help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms and identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects in violent gun crimes.

Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is also a centerpiece of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy.  In the Northern District of Illinois, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has deployed the PSN program to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, particularly firearm offenses.

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 conspiracy charge against Brown is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, while the unlawful possession charge against Dunn is punishable by up to ten years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Updated May 9, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses