The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that a suspect who straw purchased four firearms for a 16-year-old alleged drug dealer has been arrested and charged with a host of illegal gun trafficking offenses.
District Attorney Seth Williams said that Luke Dercole, 32, bought four different handguns for Michael Burak, 16. Burak allegedly used one of the guns to shoot another teenager. Dercole, of the 6400 block of Lawndale Avenue, has been charged with illegal transfer, carrying firearms on public streets, corruption of a minor, possession of a firearm by a minor and unsworn falsification to authorities, tampering with public records and related offenses.
“The fact that a grown man bought four different guns for a 16-year-old is unfathomable,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “That coupled with the harsh reality that the teen then used one of those guns to shoot another young man only cements the need for tougher penalties for straw purchasers in Pennsylvania.” Burak allegedly shot Jonathan Espinoza, 20, on October 28, 2012 in the 1200 block of Van Kirk Street. Burak has been charged with attempted murder and related offenses in connection with that incident.
According to Williams, investigators with the Gun Violence task Force caught on to Dercole after a narcotics investigation in January. Narcotics agents were investigating a residence on Frankford Avenue and confiscated a 9mm Glock semi automatic pistol. Investigators learned that the weapon was one of four purchased by Dercole in October of last year and that none of the weapons had been reported stolen or missing. Under questioning, Dercole confessed to purchasing the firearms for Burak.
“Buying multiple guns for a minor, who then shoots another teen, is not only unacceptable — it is a tragedy,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. “This is an example of enforcing sensible laws against illegal gun trafficking.”
Seventeen-Year-Old Sentenced to Life in Prison
On Thursday, Judge Linda Carpenter sentenced Radames Sanabria to life without parole for the 2010 murder of Jerome Carlyle Jr., 14. Judge Carpenter determined that after considering all of the factors required under the new statute regarding sentencing juveniles convicted of first-degree murder that the appropriate sentence for Sanabria was life without the possibility of parole.
Sanabria was convicted on Oct. 23, 2012, of first-degree murder and related offenses. Carlyle was shot four times on August 10, 2010, on the 3000 block of North 7th Street. According to District Attorney Seth Williams, Carlyle didn’t know Sanabria. The fatal shooting was triggered by an argument during which Sanabria allegedly pulled out his gun and killed the unarmed Carlyle.