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Justice News

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Moretown Man Sentenced To 20 Months Imprisonment For Unlawful Possession Of A Firearm By A Felon

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated Chief Judge Christina Reiss, of the United States District Court in Burlington, sentenced Dennis Gaskin, 28, of Moretown, Vermont to 20 months imprisonment for possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. Gaskin’s prior felony was a 2004 burglary conviction in Connecticut. Judge Reiss also sentenced him to three years supervised release, which follows his jail sentence. The firearms offense was subject to a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years.

This matter began after Vermont State Police investigated a potential domestic assault at Deer Run Lane in Moretown on November 21, 2013. According to court records, Shannon Simms, who is Gaskin’s girlfriend and mother of his infant son, locked herself in her bedroom with the baby and called her grandmother for help after Gaskin had assaulted her by pushing and slamming her to the floor during an argument and putting her in a head-lock for several seconds. The Vermont State Police went to the residence, arrested Gaskin, and eventually recovered a Ruger .22 caliber assault style rifle with a high capacity magazine that belonged to Gaskin. The State charged Gaskin with domestic assault (state case still pending). Meanwhile, in March 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Gaskin on unlawfully possessing a firearm after sustaining a felony conviction.

Gaskin pled guilty to the federal firearms offense.  At the recent sentencing hearing, the Government argued for the advisory Sentencing Guidelines sentence of 37 months. Gaskin’s attorney asked for a time served sentence (eight months). In arguing that Gaskin was a danger to the community, the Government cited to domestic abuse statistics, also cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, that “when a gun was in the house an abused woman was 6 times more likely than other abused woman to be killed.” The Government also argued: “A felon with a firearm is unacceptable and illegal. A felon, who abuses a woman, and possesses a firearm, is downright dangerous.”

The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella while the defendant is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defendant David McColgin, Esq. This case was jointly investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Vermont State Police.

Updated June 22, 2015