One Firearm Tied to a Scranton Shooting in August 2021
HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrest of Amanda Gerald of Scranton, Pa., who was charged with straw purchasing six semi-automatic handguns in 2021, one of which was used by a convicted felon in a shooting in Aug. 2021.
“Purchasing a gun for someone who isn’t legally able to carry one is a felony that often leads to senseless violence in our communities, as we saw in this case,” said AG Shapiro. “There are serious consequences for straw purchasing. Our Gun Violence Section works every day with our local and federal law enforcement partners to follow up on these guns and hold straw purchasers accountable across Pennsylvania.”
This was a joint investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Gun Violence Section, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Lackawanna County Detectives, and Scranton Police Department. On December 7, 2021, agents seized a firearm and investigated Gerald’s suspicious multiple purchases of semi-automatic handguns in 2021, five of which were made throughout the month of November.
“I would like to commend the Attorney General’s Office for its hard work in this case. We will continue to work vigorously with local, state and federal agencies to crack down on straw purchasing and stop the illegal transfer of dangerous weapons into the hands of convicted felons,” said Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell.
Agents discovered that the defendant purchased the first handgun on February 5, 2021, which was used to commit a shooting by an associate on August 13. She purchased a second handgun for the same individual after the Scranton Police Department confiscated the straw-purchased crime gun used in the shooting. Through their investigation, agents found the four remaining firearms were straw purchased and sold to another associate in New York for $3,400.
“Far too often, straw purchased firearms end up in the hands of convicted felons,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Many times, these firearms are used in crimes of violence, so it is for this reason, ATF will continue to work alongside our local, state, and federal partners to aggressively pursue these specific violations.”
Gerald was arrested on Tuesday, January 4 for six counts of VUFA-Illegal Transfer and related charges. Under state law, a person who straw purchased two or more firearms is subject to the Brad Fox Mandatory Minimum of 5 to 10 years in state prison.
The case is being prosecuted by the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office. All charges discussed are accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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