Feds Ask for Five Years in Straw Purchase Case of Gun Used to Murder Cop

Federal prosecutors are asking the court to impose a five-year sentence on the straw purchaser who purchased the weapon that killed Chicago police officer Ella French. The defendant has already pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge for unlawfully purchasing the weapon and then distributing it to an unauthorized buyer. 

The recommended sentence for unlawfully purchasing a weapon is two years. However, federal prosecutors noted that the weapon was used to kill a peace officer. The stakes of the case, therefore, fall well outside the standard set of facts typical of a straw buyer prosecution. In other words, the conduct is worse than you would see in a standard straw purchaser case. The government, therefore, wants the court to impose a longer sentence than the two-year recommended sentence. The defendant could be sentenced up to the statutory maximum for the crime. 

Straw Purchasing Crimes

What is a straw purchasing crime? Well, you need a federal firearms permit to purchase firearms. So, if you do not have one, you can have someone who does have a permit or can apply for a permit purchase the weapon instead and then deliver it to you.

Now, when a gun purchase is made, the clerk will ask you to fill out a form. This form is a legal document in which you attest to the truth of various statements. These statements include: “I attest that I am purchasing this gun for myself and will not transfer possession to another party.” They also include, “I am not a convicted felon.” If you lie on this documentation, you are committing fraud against the government. They can convict you of a crime and sentence you to prison time, as is likely here. 

Since the death of the officer, local authorities have been much more aggressive about prosecuting straw purchasers. Federal authorities are engaging with local law enforcement to stop the transfer of weapons into Chicago. Prosecuting weapons crimes has become a major focus for law enforcement in 2022. 

Felony Murder

The felony murder rule would not apply to the straw purchase of a weapon in Indiana. While it might apply in other states, the commission of the felony must be directly related to the death. Only certain types of felonies apply to this rule, and since the defendant did not discharge the weapon himself, the felony murder rule does not apply. The government must then content itself by applying a five-year maximum to the charge of making an unlawful straw purchase if the court allows it. 

Morally speaking, the man’s actions are no different than any other straw buyer. His gun had the unfortunate luck of being involved in the murder of a police officer. However, the stakes involved in these crimes are now clear.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

David Freidberg represents the rights of Chicago residents charged with weapons crimes. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to set up an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 

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