CHICAGO — A man has been indicted on federal firearm charges for allegedly straw purchasing 27 handguns from stores in the Chicago suburbs.
MATTHEW JAMAAL JOHNSON purchased the handguns in 2020 and 2021 from licensed firearms dealers in Oak Forest, Ill., Mokena, Ill., Hodgkins, Ill., and Lansing, Ill., and falsely certified on federal forms that he was the actual buyer, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In reality, Johnson purchased the guns on behalf of another individual, the charges allege.
Johnson, 34, of Dolton, Ill., is charged with 12 counts of making a false and fictitious statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm. Johnson was arrested Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Chicago. A detention hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2022, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Kristen de Tineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Chicago Police Department provided valuable assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Steindorf.
Disrupting illegal firearms trafficking is a centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s cross-jurisdictional strike force aimed at reducing gun violence. As part of the Chicago firearms trafficking strike force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collaborates with ATF, the Chicago Police Department, 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.
“Straw purchasers put guns in the wrong hands,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Our office will continue to use federal laws to prosecute straw purchasers and hold them accountable for trafficking illegally purchased firearms.”
“Straw purchasers play a grave role in enabling the unlawful possession of guns and the violence that follows,” said ATF SAC de Tineo. “Our agents are committed to working with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors to stop the flow of guns to individuals who cannot legally purchase them.”
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Each count in the indictment 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.