Straw Purchasers convicted under new gun trafficking law

Staci Dawson, 22, of Chester was sentenced to five years and 11 ½ months to 12 years in state prison. Dawson will also be under seven years consecutive probation for the alleged straw purchase of two guns for her boyfriend, a convicted felon.

— PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE DELAWARE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

The proliferation of illegal handguns through straw purchasing is just one way convicted felons obtain firearms, and this week two women became the first defendants convicted under a new state law mandating harsher punishments for straw purchases.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said Staci Dawson, 22, of Chester was sentenced to five years and 11 ½ months to 12 years in state prison. Dawson will also be under 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.

Dawson’s conviction is the first under the Brad Fox Law, which was enacted in 2013. Fox was a Montgomery County police officer who was killed in the line of duty in Sept. 2012 by a suspect who used a firearm obtained through a straw purchase in 2012.

Ashly Judge, 27, of Conshohocken, was also found guilty of making the straw purchase of two handguns in an unrelated case. She faces a five-year minimum mandatory sentence. Judge was found guilty of two counts of firearm ownership-duty of other persons, criminal conspiracy to firearm ownership and two counts of making a materially false written statement.

“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 regarding the Dawson case. “The reality is this type of decision is not only a crime, but it is morally reprehensible with total disregard for society.”

According to Whelan’s office, Delaware County has had 37 murders so far this year ,and 30 have been the result of gun violence. In Philadelphia, city police statistics show in 2013 there were 247 murders and 201, or over 80 percent, were committed using handguns. District Attorney Seth Williams has said almost always an illegally obtained firearm was used. Williams pointed out from July 2013 to July 2014 only two people arrested in homicide cases possessed gun permits.

The Brad Fox law mandates a minimum sentence of five years in prison for individuals who are convicted a second time of either straw purchasing guns, or legally buying guns and then illegally selling or giving them to felons. Gov. Tom Corbett officially signed off on the law in Jan. 2013.

Contact staff writer Larry Miller at (215) 893-5782 or lmiller@phillytrib.com

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