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Press Release

Pittsford Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Unlawful Purchase of Shotgun Used to Kill His Father

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
Charles Tan Will Serve 20 Years in Federal Prison for Causing the Straw Purchase of a Shotgun, Knowing it Would be Used to Murder His Father

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK - Charles J. Tan, age 23, of Pittsford, New York, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison in connection with the unlawful purchase of a shotgun that was used to murder his father in 2015, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)-New York Field Division; and Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter. Tan was also sentenced to serve a 3-year term of supervised release following his release from incarceration.

On June 22, 2018, Tan pled guilty to three federal felonies: receiving a firearm with intent to use it to commit a felony, causing another to make a false written statement to a federal firearms dealer, and causing another to make a false record required by law to be kept by a federal firearms dealer. In doing so, Tan admitted that in February 2015, he caused a fellow Cornell University student to make an unlawful “straw purchase” of a 12-gauge shotgun for him from the Walmart in Cortland, New York.  Tan, a Canadian citizen, acknowledged that he falsely told the fellow student that he needed the firearm for hunting, when his actual intent was that it be used to shoot his father.  In February 2015, the defendant’s father, Liang “Jim” Tan, was shot to death in his home in Pittsford. Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies found him seated at his desk in his study, shot multiple times at close range by a 12-gauge shotgun. The state murder trial of Charles Tan in Monroe County Court ended on October 8, 2015 in a hung jury and the case was later dismissed by the presiding state court judge in November 2015. The federal investigation found evidence that just prior to the murder of his father, Charles Tan emptied a bank account and told friends he would be leaving Cornell University.

United States Attorney Jaquith said, “Justice has finally been done in this case. Charles Tan went to great lengths to obtain a shotgun in Cortland with lies about the actual purchaser and intended use and planned to leave college and flee the country.  He drove three hours to Rochester, visited friends for four hours, and then went home, where he found his father working at his home computer in his slippers and gunned him down, savagely shooting him three times in the chest and face.  The sentence to imprisonment for 20 years reflects the finding by the court that Tan obtained the shotgun to commit this premeditated murder.  Justice was secured through great work by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict said, “Combatting the flow of illegal firearms into our communities lies at the heart of ATF’s mission to protect the public from violent crime. In this case, an unlawfully purchased firearm was used to commit a heinous crime that will scar a family and community forever. Today’s sentencing sends a message that ATF and its partners at each and every level are committed to protecting the public from violence and will leave no stone unturned to pursue and aggressively prosecute those who seek to spread violence in their community.”

"The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department is grateful to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York, especially Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher," said Monroe County Undersheriff Korey Brown.  “Her efforts were able to bring justice to Charlie Tan for his involvement in the murder of his father, Jim Tan." 

This case was investigated by the ATF and the Monroe County (New York) Sheriff’s Office, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lisa M. Fletcher and Miroslav Lovric. 

The case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide U.S. Department of Justice initiative that brings together federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.

Updated November 19, 2018

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime