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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Utah PSN Partners Target Those Who “Lie-And-Try” To Purchase A Firearm; Two Federal Firearms Licensees Also Charged

Project Safe Neighborhood


SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Project Safe Neighborhoods partners have a message for those who “lie-and-try” in attempting to purchase a firearm from federal firearms licensees in Utah: If you lie on paperwork you are required to complete to purchase a firearm, you may end up facing a federal prison sentence.

Individuals restricted from possessing a firearm are not the only ones who could end up in federal court.  Federal firearms licensees (FFLs), who sell or transfer a firearm to a prohibited person, allow a straw purchaser to buy a gun for someone else, or fail to keep proper records of who they sell firearms to, also face potential criminal prosecution as well.

"Our background check systems are only as good as the information they receive," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. "I have ordered our prosecutors to more aggressively charge those who lie to the background check system in order to try to get guns illegally.  Under my tenure as Attorney General, we have already increased federal gun prosecutions to a 10-year high and violent crime prosecutions to a 25-year high.  We are just getting started.  We intend to break these records again, punish more criminals who try to cheat the system, and deter many more from lying to a background check in the first place." 

“The Utah Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative fully supports the right of Utahns to own firearms and does not target legitimate firearms owners,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.  “Our first priority is to stop crime before it is committed.  Keeping firearms out of the hands of those with felony convictions or other prohibiting factors is a key part of our efforts to make Utah communities safer. A firearm in the hands of a gang member with a felony conviction or someone convicted of a domestic violence offense is a recipe for more violent crime. Those who attempt to circumvent the law by selling guns to prohibited individuals or those who lie to try to buy one are committing federal crimes.”

“ATF partners with the West Valley City and Unified Police departments, as well as federal firearm licensees, to combat lie-and-buy cases,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Debbie Livingston said today.  “These partnerships are critical to our success.”

Two indictments returned by a federal grand jury last week targeted federal firearms licensees with violations of federal law related to the sale of firearms.

William Hammond, age 78, of North Salt Lake City, and Kristine Vanorman, age 57, of Woods Cross, Utah, are charged in an indictment with three counts of sale or transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person in relation to transactions occurring at their business. Hammond is charged in the first count of the indictment with selling a firearm to a person the indictment alleges he had reasonable cause to believe was prohibited from possessing a firearm. Vanorman is charged in the second count with selling a firearm to a person having reasonable cause to believe the person was prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law.  Both Hammond and Vanorman are charged in the third count with selling a firearm to a prohibited person.  The sales involved straw purchases where an individual was allowed to purchase a firearm for an individual prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law.  Hammond and Vanorman are the responsible parties for the federal firearms license. The maximum potential penalty for each count in the indictment is 10 years in prison.

In a second indictment, Kenneth Gene Yama, age 68, of Moab, is charged with two counts of failure by a federal firearms licensed dealer to keep proper records.  The indictment alleges Yama sold firearms at his business to individuals without noting the name, age, and place of residence of the firearms purchaser in records he is required to maintain under federal law. The maximum potential penalty for each count is five years in prison.

Six indictments recently returned by a federal grand jury target individuals with alleged “lie-and-try” efforts to get a firearm.  In each case, the indictment alleges the individuals knowingly made a false statement intended to deceive as they were attempting to purchase a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer.  Defendants in five of the cases answered no when asked if they were convicted felons. The sixth defendant falsely claimed that he had never been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  The potential maximum penalty for making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm is 10 years in prison.

Defendants charged in the “lie-and-try” attempts are Tyrone Gary Taylor, age 43, of Elko, Nevada; Reginaldo Villicana, age 28, of Magna; Joshua Ian Newell, age 36, of Salt Lake City; Aaron James Stock, age 38, of Cottonwood Heights; Saul Perez, age 32, of Magna; and Michael Dean Brattin, age 27, of Tooele.

To aid federal firearms licensees in complying with federal law designed to keep our communities safe, PSN has produced a limited number of oversized clipboards.  When buyers are filling out or signing background check paperwork, the clipboards carry the clear warning to would-be unlawful purchasers and their accomplices that serious penalties are in store for the violation of federal law.

PSN is a program designed to bring together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.   U.S. Attorney General Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department of Justice’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, local strategies to reduce violent crime. PSN is based on five key principles:  leadership, partnership, targeted and prioritized enforcement, prevention of additional violence, and accountability.

“The heart of PSN is partnership.  None of us can combat violent crime on our own.  We all have a role to play—federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement; prosecutors; community members and organizations; victims’ advocates; social service providers; and many others.  If we work together, we can have a meaningful impact on our communities,” Huber said today.

So far, 97 PSN firearms cases have been indicted this year in Utah.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated May 2, 2018