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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty in Illegal Scheme to Purchase Firearms

PITTSBURGH – A resident of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of firearms, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Nathan Lawrence, 33, of Brooklyn, NY, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Lawrence conspired with Michael Bassier and others to facilitate the straw purchase of at least 20 firearms from federally licensed firearms stores. For each purchase, Lawrence and Michael Bassier used a car that Lawrence rented, and Lawrence usually drove. The straw purchasers would state, at the time of purchase, that they were the actual buyers of the firearms, when in fact Bassier was the actual buyer. Bassier provided money to the straw purchasers and told them what to buy, in Lawrence’s presence. Lawrence was also present when Bassier took possession of the firearms afterward.

Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for December 15, 2016. The law provides for a total sentence of ten years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court ordered that Lawrence remain detained.

This case is being prosecuted under Project Safe Neighborhoods, a collaborative effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and communities to prevent, deter and prosecute gun crime. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with detectives from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, conducted the investigation leading to the second superseding indictment in this case. Assistant United States Attorney Conor Lamb is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated August 12, 2016