Newark Man Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison for Possessing Five Firearms in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking and Conspiring to Distribute Fentanyl and Cocaine
TRENTON, N.J. – An Ocean County, New Jersey, man today admitted unlawfully possessing a privately manufactured short barrel rifle, a silencer, and five imitation badges of various federal agencies, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Jeffrey Backlund, 57, of Waretown, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with unlawfully possessing firearms that were not registered in the National Firearms Register and Transfer Record, and unlawful possession of an official badge or identification card.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Sept. 6, 2020, after investigating a domestic disturbance, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Backlund’s residence and located a number of firearms and imitation federal identification badges. They found one short-barreled, AR-style, .223 caliber rifle bearing no serial number and no branding. Attached to the rifle, they found a tan metal cylindrical device that law enforcement determined to be a silencer. Given the physical characteristics of the rifle and silencer, Backlund was required to, but did not, registered these items in the National Firearms Register and Transfer Record pursuant to the National Firearms Act.
Law enforcement officers also located two bi-fold wallets containing FBI Special Agent identification credentials bearing Backlund’s picture and personal information, a United States Marshals Service badge, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent badge, and a Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent badge. All badges and identifications were imitation and Backlund did not have the authority to possess any of them.
The charge of possessing firearms not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000; the charge of unlawful possession of an official badge or identification card carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and a maximum fine of $5,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 13, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Messenger in Newark; special agents of the ATF Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews; special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark; members of the U.S. Marshals Service, under the direction of Marshal Juan Mattos Jr.; detectives with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, and officers of the Ocean Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michal J. Rogalski, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha K. Nye of the Criminal Division in Trenton.