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Chester woman first sentenced under Brad Fox Law for straw purchase

DATE: Dec. 11, 2014

CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris- 610.891.4163

District Attorney Jack Whelan announced Staci Dawson, 22, of Chester was sentenced to five years and 11 ½ months to 12 years in a state correctional facility plus seven years consecutive probation for the straw purchase of two guns for her boyfriend, a convicted felon. She was found guilty on charges of conspiracy, making false reports to law enforcement and illegally selling or transferring firearms to another person. Judge James Bradley imposed the five year minimum mandatory sentence mandated by the Brad Fox Law when sentencing Dawson, who has been incarcerated since her conviction in August. Dawson’s is the first straw purchase sentence in Pennsylvania, under the Brad Fox Law enacted in 2013. The law is named for a Montgomery County police officer who was gunned down in the line of duty by a suspect who obtained his gun through a straw purchase. The law mandates a minimum sentence of five years in prison for individuals who are convicted a second time of "straw purchasing" guns, or legally buying guns and then illegally selling or giving them to felons. Out of the County’s 37 murders so far this year, 30 have been the result of gun violence. District Attorney Jack Whelan and other officials present at the press conference drove home the danger straw purchasing and illegal transfers present and the severity of the crimes. “Straw purchasing, a transaction in which a person falsely asserts they are buying a gun for their own use when in fact they are buying it for someone else, is one of the main ways criminals prohibited from owning guns get access to them,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “The reality is this type of decision is not only a crime, but it is morally reprehensible with total disregard for society. It is our hope that this sentence will discourage people from purchasing guns and potentially placing them in the hands of dangerous criminals. I support the second amendment right to bear arms, for those who are legally entitled to do so. Guns belong in the hands of the citizens who are legally allowed to possess them, not the criminals. If a person bypasses the law, they face significant incarceration in a state facility.” On March 5, 2013, Shamar Atkinson and Dawson’s boyfriend, David Colon, were taken into custody by Chester Patrol Cpl. William Carey Jr. who secured a Kel-Tec pistol. Colon, 22, was charged with cocaine possession and Atkinson was charged with possession of the Kel-Tec pistol. On March 8, Delaware County CID detective Dave Tyler was contacted in reference to a firearm that was purchased by Dawson at a gun store in Delaware County as a possible straw purchase. Detective Tyler interviewed the gun store owner and confirmed Dawson purchased a Kel-Tec 9 mm model PF-9 handgun on Feb. 27, 2013 which she later reported as stolen to Chester Police on March 12, 2013 along with another firearm. As a result of probable cause based on the investigation conducted by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division and Chester Police Department, Staci Dawson was arrested for the straw purchase of a Kel-Tec 9mm model PF-9 handgun and a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber handgun. District Attorney Whelan commended county and city detectives, along with the Anti-Violence Task Force for the successful prosecution of this case. He also noted the Task Force’s plans to continue aggressively prosecuting straw purchases and illegal gun transfers in Delaware County. “I’d like to commend Deputy District Attorney George B. Dawson who prosecuted the case and County detectives David Tyler and Michael Jay, along with the Chester Police Department for their investigative work on this difficult case,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “Our office will continue to work with federal, state and local agencies to address and reduce gun violence along with community organizations, churches and even gun store owners to raise awareness about the severity of these crimes.”

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