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Press Release

Simpson County, Kentucky Resident Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For Making And Possessing Illegal Firearms (Molotov Cocktails)

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky
Evidence in Gwathney-Law prosecution

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman, announced the sentencing, of a Simpson County, Kentucky resident, in United States District Court yesterday, by United States District Judge Greg N. Stivers, to twenty years in prison, without the possibility of parole, for making and possessing illegal firearms, commonly known as Molotov cocktails.

“In this case, a phone call to law enforcement, and quick response by the Franklin Police Department and the ATF, may have saved Simpson County from untold harm,” stated United States Attorney Russell Coleman. “A vigilant public, aggressive law enforcement, and a significant punishment – twenty years – is the right formula for protecting our communities.”   

Trey Alexander Gwathney-Law, 20, of Franklin, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to counts one and two of a superseding indictment, on June 16, 2017, before Judge Stivers and at that time was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal Service. Gwathney-Law admitted to making and possessing five illegal firearms. According to court records and report by the Franklin Police Department, Gwathney-Law relayed to an acquaintance that he had made the devices in order to blow-up Franklin-Simpson County Middle School.

Specifically, according to the plea agreement, on September 27, 2015, Gwathney-Law knowingly made five illegal firearms. All were made using glass bottles. Four of the bottles (one Mountain Dew, one Sprite, and two Dr. Pepper) contained a dark gas/oil mixture liquid with a cloth wick stuffed in the bottle opening.  Commonly referred to as a Molotov cocktail. A fifth, illegal firearm was made using a glass Root Beer bottle and contained a dark gas/oil mixture liquid with a piece of green pyrotechnic fuse attached to the opening with an epoxy sealant.  The bottle contained a silver CO2 cartridge in the top of the bottle, under the pyrotechnic fuse.  The CO2 cartridge contained explosive powder and small pieces of paper which appeared to have been soaked in the same flammable liquid found inside the bottle.  Commonly referred to as a Molotov cocktail. Further, Gwathney-Law admitted to possessing the illegal firearms.

At sentencing, the United States moved to dismiss counts three and counts four of the superseding indictment and agreed that a sentence of 20 years, followed by a three year period of supervised release was the appropriate disposition in this case.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jo Lawless and was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Kentucky State Police (KSP) and the Franklin, Kentucky Police Department.

Updated March 7, 2018

Violent Crime