Suburban Pittsburgh Man Sentenced to More than 5 Years in Prison for Violating Federal Firearms and Explosives Laws
PITTSBURGH - A former resident of Whitehall, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to five years and four months (64 months) of incarceration, to be followed by three years of supervised released on his conviction of violating federal firearms and explosives laws, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.
United States District Judge William S. Stickman IV imposed the sentence on Kurt Cofano, 34, formerly of Pittsburgh, PA 15227.
According to the information presented to the court, on July 9 and July 10, 2020, Cofano was in possession of unregistered destructive devices. The court was also advised that from May 2020 through July 2020, Cofano knowingly and unlawfully and without registering and obtaining approval made destructive devices.
Specifically, the court was advised that on July 9, 2020, Cofano was driving his vehicle, observed a Mt. Lebanon police car, and waved the police car over to him. When police approached Cofano’s vehicle, they observed weapons in plain view. Cofano stated that he had M80 type devices in his vehicle, as well as firearms. Local police sought and obtained a search warrant for the vehicle. They recovered, among other things, components for making destructive devices such as detonators, triggers, and fuses; short-barreled long guns; ammunition; and marijuana. Federal search warrants were sought and obtained for Cofano’s residence, wherein 14 improvised grenades and nine devices labeled “M101” as well as components for making destructive devices; and marijuana and drug paraphernalia were recovered.
“I commend our law enforcement partners who worked seamlessly to avert a potential tragedy on July 9, 2020,” said U.S. Attorney Chung. “They had the knowledge, the training, the equipment and the commitment to render the defendant’s numerous explosive devices safe. We could not have brought this case without the quick action of our local partners.”
“This defendant was in possession of very dangerous weapons and appeared intent to use them,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “This type of behavior places our entire community in danger. I commend the outstanding work of our local, state, and federal partners who acted swiftly and were able to arrest this individual before any harm could be done. I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated work of the US Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”
“The cooperation between local and federal agencies brought this potentially tragic threat to a quick and safe resolution,” said Allegheny County Police Supt. Chris Kearns. “The strong working relationships show in these situations.”
“The successful investigation and prosecution of this case epitomizes a true team effort amongst federal, state, and local authorities,” said Mt. Lebanon Police Chief Aaron V. Lauth. “Everything worked as it should and a dangerous situation was resolved without harm to the community."
"The Whitehall Police Department truly appreciates the collective efforts of everyone involved in this investigation," said Whitehall Police Chief Jason Gagorik. We are especially thankful for the community members that alerted us to Mr. Cofano's suspicious behaviors. This investigation once again reminds us that the public can be the best eyes and ears of law enforcement. So please remember, when you see something suspicious, do not hesitate to say something to the proper authorities."
U.S. Attorney Chung and Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan D. Lusty prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of Kurt Cofano. The Mt. Lebanon Police Department, the Whitehall Police Department, the Allegheny County Police Department and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police provided substantial assistance with the investigation.