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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 22, 2021

Bellows Falls Woman Sentenced for Buying a Firearm for a Felon

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont stated that on July 22, 2021, Bridgette Lawlor, 34, of Bellows Falls, Vermont, was sentenced in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont, to serve two years on federal probation after her guilty plea to one count of making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm.  U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss also ordered the criminal forfeiture of two firearms that were seized during the investigation.  

According to court records and proceedings, on March 23, 2020, in connection with the purchase of a Ruger LCP .380 pistol, Lawlor completed an ATF Form 4473 at J&H Guns, a Federal Firearm Licensee located in Bellows Falls, Vermont.  On the Form 4473, Lawlor indicated that she was the actual buyer of the firearm.  In fact, Lawlor was buying the gun at the request of her then-boyfriend, Ferdinand Cruz.  At the time of the purchase, Cruz was a felon, having been previously convicted in Connecticut of robbery, unlawful restraint, and felony sale of cocaine.  On April 1, 2020, Lawlor picked up the firearm at J&H Guns and provided it to Cruz.  

Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan A. Ophardt commended the efforts of the Dover, Vermont Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives in the investigation and prosecution of Lawlor.  “The straw-purchasing of firearms creates significant dangers to our communities, as it can facilitate the possession of firearms by violent felons.  Those who are willing to lie and circumvent federal background-check requirements will be held accountable.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson handled the prosecution of Lawlor.  Ian P. Carleton of Sheehey Furlong & Behm, P.C., represented Lawlor.  

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, 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.  https://www.justice.gov/psn

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated July 22, 2021