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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Twelve Firearms Seized, Scituate Resident Detained In Ongoing ATF, Scituate Police, U.S. Attorney’s Office Firearms Trafficking Investigation

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – An investigation by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Scituate Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office into the alleged trafficking of firearms from a Scituate, R.I., residence resulted today in the seizure of nine firearms and more than 30 marijuana plants from the residence, and the arrest and detention of Philip Debartolo, 29, of Scituate, on federal firearm and drug charges.

ATF agents, with the assistance of Scituate Police and DEA agents, executed a court authorized search of Debartolo’s residence this morning and seized six semi-automatic pistols – five with high capacity magazines, three revolvers and a significant amount of ammunition hidden beneath the floor boards of a second floor storage room. Agents and officers also seized 31 marijuana plants from the basement.

The investigation and arrest of Debartolo was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Daniel J. Kumor, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston field divisionof ATF; Scituate Police Chief Colonel David M. Randall; and John J. Arvanitis, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s New England field division.

United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “This case is yet another example of a stark reality: the existence of a legal market for firearms does nothing to stem their illegal distribution.  As with any other product, there is a ready and willing illegal gun market for those who, for good reason, cannot lawfully possess a gun or who simply want a cheaper price.   Combatting this illegal market has been, and will continue to be, among the highest priorities of this Office, because, at bottom, it is an unregulated, free-flowing source of guns to those who would do their fellow citizens catastrophic harm.”

Guns, drugs and violence plague cities across the country,” said Daniel J. Kumor, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston field divisionof ATF. “This investigation took a dozen crime guns off the streets and ensures that our neighborhoods are a little safer and that these firearms will never fall into the hands of individuals whose only intent would be to add to the violence.”

According to documents filed with the court, it is alleged that on several occasions an undercover ATF agent spoke with and met with Debartolo to arrange and to purchase three firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun, for between $300 and $400 dollars. It is also alleged that on numerous occasions Debartolo sold to the agent plastic bags containing approximately one ounce of marijuana, each for between $200 & $225 dollars.

Debartolo appeared today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond and was ordered detained on a federal criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms, possession of a firearm with an altered or obliterated serial number, possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun, and distribution and manufacture of marijuana. According to documents filed with the court, in 2005, Debartolo was convicted in Rhode Island state court on felony assault, drive-by shooting and firearm charges.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah.


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Contact: 401-709-5357

Updated June 22, 2015