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2/17/16- Chester man faces 10 years in state prison for “straw purchase” illegal transfer of guns  

DATE:  Feb. 17, 2016
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4163

District Attorney Jack Whelan announced Ronald Eli Williams, 26, of the 1200 block of Crosby Street in Chester was sentenced five-to-10 years in a state correctional facility after he pled guilty to the “straw purchase” illegal transfer of six guns all of which he reported as stolen to the Chester Police Department in case the guns were used in a crime. 

Ronald Williams was sentenced under the Brad Fox Law, which mandates a sentence of five years in prison for individuals who are convicted a second time of "straw purchasing" or illegally selling or giving them to felons. The law was enacted in early 2013 after Fox, a Plymouth Township Officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty by a man using a gun obtained through a straw purchase. 

On January 8, 2014, the Pennsylvania State Police conducted a traffic stop on I-95 southbound near Exit 10 in Tinicum Township. During the course of the traffic stop, it was discovered the passenger had in his possession a 40 caliber Smith & Wesson hi-point model firearm, which had been reported as stolen to the Chester Police Department on May 21, 2013. The passenger was arrested for firearms not to be carried without a license, and the firearm was entered into evidence at the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks. 

In Nov. 2014, Ronald Williams contacted Trp. John E. Hanosek to find out if the State Police had recovered his Hi-point .40 S&W firearm. He was instructed to come in to the barracks to retrieve his firearm which had been entered in evidence. On Dec. 16 2014, Ronald Williams arrived at the PSP Barracks to retrieve his firearm and was interviewed by Trp. Hanosek and Trp. John Cargan about his purchase of the firearm. During the course of the interview, Ronald Williams admitted that he had purchased the Hi-point .40 S&W on Sept. 4, 2014 for $200 and then sold it to an individual for $139. He conceded that selling a firearm between two persons without a federal firearms license is illegal. He also admitted that he reported the firearm as stolen because he did not want to get into trouble, in case the firearm was involved in a crime.

During the course of the interview, authorities learned that Ronald Williams had purchased a total of six guns which he sold to individuals in Pennsylvania throughout Delaware County and that Williams reported the firearms as stolen to the Chester Police Department so that he would not face criminal charges in the event that the firearm was involved in a crime. As a result, Ronald Williams was arrested Feb. 2015 by Pennsylvania State Police on six counts of the sale or transfer of firearms, which is a felony of the third degree with all subsequent offenses being felonies of the second degree.  Williams was arraigned on Feb. 15, 2015 by District Judge Wendy Roberts and remanded to the Delaware County prison where he has been since his sentencing on Tues., Feb. 16 by Judge James Nilon. 

District Attorney Whelan commended state and county detectives, along with members of the Anti-Violence Task Force for their continued investigation into straw purchases. He also noted that his office will continue to aggressively prosecute straw purchases and illegal gun transfers in Delaware County. 

“I’d like to commend Deputy District Attorney George B. Dawson, Chief of the Anti-Violence Task Force, who prosecutes straw purchases cases on behalf of the commonwealth and commend Trp. John Hanosek and Trp. John Cargan for their exemplary work on this investigation,” 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 members of the community, churches and gun store owners to raise awareness about the severity of these crimes and prevent guns from getting into the hands of felons.” 

“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 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 our continued convictions 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. If a person violates the law, they face significant incarceration in a state facility.”