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Justice News

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

Shrewsbury Man Sentenced to 65 Months Imprisonment for Federal Gun Offenses Involving Unlawful Possession of Machine Gun

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that on March 26, 2019, Frank Weir, 57, of Shrewsbury, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss to 65 months imprisonment. Weir had previously pled guilty to a two-count indictment and agreed to the 65-month sentence.  The first count charged Weir with possessing a machine gun without a permit in February 2016. According to court records, the machine gun was a Thompson U.S. Navy 1928 submachine gun, .45 caliber (manufactured by Colt). The second count alleged that this same firearm had an obliterated serial number, in violation of federal law. Judge Reiss also sentenced Weir to three years of supervised release, which begins when he is released from prison.

The plea agreement was part of a global settlement with the federal government and the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office, where Weir is facing a separate and unrelated state charge of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Donna Marzilli on February 15, 2016. On March 27, 2019, Weir agreed to pled guilty to the state murder charge and receive a 20-year sentence, all suspended but eight years, to be served concurrently with the federal sentence. At the state hearing, the state court judge deferred acceptance of the state plea agreement until a pre-sentence investigation could be completed. 

The machine gun at issue in this federal case was not related to the State’s murder charge. Under the National Firearms Act, a person may not possess a machine gun unless it is registered to that person in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. A violation carries a maximum penalty of ten years. Under the Federal Gun Control Act, it is unlawful to possess a firearm with an obliterated serial number. This offense carries a maximum sentence of five years.

The advisory Sentencing Guidelines called for a sentence of only 30-37 months for Weir’s firearm offenses, which are unrelated to the murder of Donna Marzilli. The government argued, however, and Judge Reiss agreed, that a significantly higher sentence was justified based on a pattern of domestic abuse by Weir that culminated in Marzilli’s death. At sentencing, the government cited studies which show that when the abuser of a woman owns a firearm, the woman is five to six times more likely to be murdered. 

United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan stated:  “This is another example of how rigorous, collaborative enforcement of our federal firearms laws brings consequences to domestic abusers and takes them out of our communities. We will continue to work with our state and local partners to use existing federal laws to remove guns from the hands of dangerous individuals, particularly those who perpetrate the horror of domestic violence.  We thank our counterparts in the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office for the close cooperation to achieve this result.”  

U.S. Attorney Nolan noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhood.  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.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Vermont State Police. The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Perella and Frank Weir is represented by Peter Langrock, Esq. of Middlebury.

Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated April 1, 2019