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Press Release

Former KC Fire Captain Pleads Guilty To Illegally Selling Firearms to Felons

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A former captain in the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department pleaded guilty in federal court today to charges related to illegally selling 77 firearms over a five-year period, and to selling firearms to convicted felons.

“Our gun laws exist to make it hard for violent criminals to obtain the tools of their trade,” Garrison said.  “Felons, illegal aliens, domestic abusers, drug users, and other prohibited persons cannot purchase or possess firearms — unless someone breaks the law to put guns in their hands.  These criminals may not pull the trigger, but they profit by making violent crime possible in our neighborhoods.”

James Samuels, 54, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to one count of conspiracy to make false statements during the purchase of firearms, one count of engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license, four counts of selling firearms and ammunition to persons prohibited by law from possessing them, and one count of possessing an unregistered firearm. Samuels, who has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest on Oct. 4, 2018, remains in federal custody until his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

By pleading guilty today, Samuels admitted that he purchased 77 firearms from November 2013 to August 2018. Of those 77 firearms, 57 were Jimenez pistols. Samuels transferred 47 of those 77 firearms to third parties (including 43 Jimenez pistols). During this time, Samuels was not a licensed dealer of firearms.

Samuels also admitted that 10 to 20 of those firearms were sold to persons who were forbidden by law from possessing them. Samuels bought the firearms at a low price and sold them for a $40 to $50 profit.

Samuels conspired with others to make false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers by misrepresenting the identity of the actual buyer of firearms. Samuels purchased firearms then transferred ownership to another person, who later reported the firearms had been stolen.

Samuels was arrested on Oct. 4, 2018, following an undercover operation in which he sold an Armscor of the Philippines .38-caliber revolver to a confidential informant whom he knew to be a felon. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Samuels’s residence the same day and seized 28 firearms (including 22 handguns, five rifles and one shotgun). Among the firearms seized was a Glock .40-caliber pistol with a TAC Isran GLR 440 stock installed, which was not registered to Samuels, and a Colt .45-caliber pistol, which had been reported stolen. In addition to the firearms, officers seized approximately 12,000 rounds of assorted ammunition, as well as firearm parts and accessories.

The Oct. 4, 2018, transaction is one of four instances cited in today’s plea agreement in which the same confidential informant, whom Samuels knew was a felon and thus prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, purchased a firearm and ammunition from Samuels. In each of those four instances, Samuels accompanied the confidential informant and an undercover federal agent to a licensed firearms dealer, where the undercover agent completed the paperwork for the straw purchase of the firearm on behalf of the confidential informant. In each instance, the straw purchase was at the direction of Samuels.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Samuels acknowledges that he has the ability to pay a fine and agrees that $11,282 seized by law enforcement officers during the execution of the search warrant at his residence will be applied to any fine imposed by the court.

Under federal statutes, Samuels is subject to a sentence of up to 60 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

Updated August 31, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses