NORFOLK, Va. – A Chesapeake man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release for conspiracy to make false statements in connection with 45 firearm transactions.
“Less than two weeks ago, the President signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which among other things increases the penalties for firearm traffickers and introduces new laws to address the proliferation of illegal firearms. Congress and the American people have spoken: we will not tolerate firearm traffickers, straw purchasers, and felons in possession of guns,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Those who traffic illegal firearms, like this defendant, are fueling the fires of gun violence, and with our law enforcement partners we will continue to relentlessly pursue those who seek to profit from these crimes.”
“Today’s announcement sends a clear message of accountability because we know all too well that purchasing firearms for people other than yourself can yield deadly consequences. We at ATF continue to work diligently to ensure that people who violate established firearm-related laws and commit acts of violence like those involved in this investigation will not be tolerated. I am proud that our agents worked collaboratively with the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure justice was served,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson. “The ATF Washington Field Division will continue to collaborate with our partners to ensure citizens are protected against those who violate federal firearm laws which ultimately may negatively affect our communities.”
According to court documents, from June 2019 through June 2020, Kevin Staton, Jr., 24, engaged in the business of buying and selling 45 firearms without a license. To buy the firearms he trafficked, Staton made false official statements on ATF forms. Staton claimed he was the actual buyer of the firearms, but, in truth, he was purchasing the firearms for other individuals or with the intent to quickly resell them. Staton would coordinate with co-conspirators to identify firearms for purchase through online firearm marketplaces.
When Staton, a two-time All-American college football player, was interviewed by ATF agents, he told them that “Guns are like money.”
One of the firearms Staton was convicted of trafficking was recovered seven months after his purchase in Philadelphia and was connected to a homicide on March 21, 2020; a shooting involving multiple victims on May 28, 2020; and a shooting into a residence on May 30, 2020. Other firearms Staton trafficked were recovered throughout the country in connection with other homicides and shootings, and in the possession of convicted felons.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Ramin Fatehi, Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney; and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Butler and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham M. Stolle prosecuted the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime