Chestertown Felon Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Obtaining Guns Through Straw Purchases and Theft
BALTIMORE, MD—Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Daniel P. Welch, age 36, of Crumpton and Chestertown, Maryland, to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Welch, who was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his criminal record, obtained guns through straw purchases and theft.
“It is illegal to help a criminal get a gun,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Queen Anne’s County Sheriff R. Gary Hofmann III; Chief G. Adrian Baker of the Chestertown Police Department; and Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance G. Richardson.
According to his guilty pleas, Welch is a previously convicted felon and therefore is prohibited from possessing firearms. Welch and co-defendant Jonathan Sutton have known each other since they were small children. At Welch’s request, between January 29, 2011 and January 31, 2014, Sutton obtained six firearms for Welch through private sellers and through “straw purchases” by Sutton from a federally licensed firearms dealer. A “straw purchase” occurs when an individual, who is ineligible to lawfully purchase a firearm, such as a previously convicted felon, solicits another to conduct the transaction.
Welch admitted that on January 29, 2011, he and Sutton visited four ATMs in Stevensville, Maryland, near a federally licensed firearms dealer, and Welch withdrew approximately $1,700 in cash. Welch and Sutton then went to the firearms dealer and selected firearms for Sutton to purchase for Welch. Sutton purchased a Smith & Wesson MP5-22, a Mossberg Persuada 500, and a Century Arms SKS. Sutton completed the required forms indicating that he was the actual buyer of the firearms and was not acquiring the firearms for another person. On February 1, 2011, Sutton picked up the guns, which he then transferred to Welch. On February 11, 2011, Sutton purchased a Marlin rifle from the firearms dealer, again completing the required form and falsely indicting that he was buying the gun for himself. In 2012, Sutton acquired a Remington Arms 597 and a Ruger Single Six, both .22 caliber, through private purchases. Those guns were subsequently possessed by Welch.
Welch also admitted that on May 17, 2013, he broke into a neighbor’s home and stole an express pump action 20 gauge shotgun with a 21 inch barrel and other items. On June 14, 2103, officers with the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at Welch’s residence in Crumpton and recovered items Welch had stolen from the neighbor, including the shotgun. Welch had sawed off a portion of the barrel and removed the serial number. During the search, officers also located the two firearms Welch received from Sutton in 2012. A subsequent search of Welch’s residence recovered the Marlin rifle from Welch’s bedroom.
Jonathan M. Sutton, age 36, of Chestertown, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to unlawfully obtain firearms for a prohibited person and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 16, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, Chestertown Police Department and the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Zachary A. Myers, who is prosecuting the case.