CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Parkersburg woman pled guilty to aggravated identity theft in connection with illegally obtaining a firearm, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Erica Nicole Blake, 36, entered her guilty plea before Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the Parkersburg Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“Blake knows she is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a gun due to her previous felony conviction,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “So she tried to pass off as someone else. We prosecute those who lie to buy firearms.”
On November 10, 2017, Blake used a West Virginia driver’s license belonging to another person as a means of photo identification during the purchase of a KAHR Arms .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol from a licensed firearms dealer in Parkersburg. Blake used the stolen identification in order to fraudulently pass the background check. Blake was prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm as a result of having been convicted of felony forgery and uttering in 2012.
On December 6, 2017, approximately three weeks after Blake purchased the pistol, a Parkersburg Police Officer recovered it from Mark Matthew Smith during a traffic stop on Wood Street. Blake was driving the vehicle, and Smith was a passenger. An officer located the pistol in the floorboard where Smith was sitting. Smith was wearing a concealed carry holster for the pistol. Smith has felony convictions of forgery and uttering as well as grand larceny. He has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and is set for trial on June 25, 2019.
Blake faces a mandatory sentence of 2 years in federal prison when she is sentenced on August 14, 2019. Assistant United States Attorney Joshua C. Hanks is responsible for the prosecution.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.