Woman Indicted in Scheme to “Straw Purchase” Guns in Indiana on Behalf of Convicted Felon in Chicago
CHICAGO — A Chicago woman has been indicted on federal firearm charges for conspiring to “straw purchase” handguns in Indiana on behalf of a convicted felon in Chicago.
MONICA NAVEJAR, 31, purchased the guns from licensed dealers in Indiana and falsely certified on federal forms that she was the actual buyer, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In reality, Navejar purchased the guns on behalf of a convicted felon in Chicago whom Navejar knew was prohibited from legally purchasing firearms on his own, the indictment states. The felon directed Navejar to buy certain firearms that he wanted and then provided her with the purchase money, according to the charges.
The two-count indictment was returned Oct. 4, 2018, in federal court in Chicago. It charges Navejar with one count of conspiracy to knowingly make false statements and knowingly dispose of a firearm to a convicted felon, and one count of knowingly disposing of a firearm to a convicted felon. Arraignment is set for Oct. 16, 2018, at 11:00 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Celinez Nunez, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh.
“Straw purchasers too often play a grave role in enabling the unlawful possession of guns and the senseless shootings that can follow,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to stopping the flow of guns to convicted felons or other prohibited individuals who cannot legally possess them.”
“Preventing the illegal selling and purchasing of firearms will always be a priority for ATF in conjunction with our local and federal partners,” said ATF SAC Nunez. “Straw purchasers must be held accountable for their role in bringing so many illegal guns into Chicago.”
“Anyone who knowingly puts a gun into the hands of a felon shows blatant disregard for the safety and security of our communities,” said FBI SAC Sallet. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable anyone who engages in these illicit transactions, which directly contribute to the gun violence plaguing our city.”
“It is important that we do whatever we can as a society to make sure that we prevent additional families from losing a loved one because a criminal was able to get their hands on a gun through illegal means - including straw purchases,” said CPD Supt. Johnson.
The indictment describes three handgun purchases in 2015 and 2017 in Hammond, Ind., and Gary, Ind. On one occasion, the felon accompanied Navejar to Indiana when one of the purchases was made, the indictment states. The charges also allege that Navejar provided the felon with other guns that Navejar had previously purchased for her own use.
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.
The conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the charge of knowingly disposing a firearm to a felon is punishable by up to ten years. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.