U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Arizona
District of Arizona
For Immediate Release
Monday, June 20, 2011
Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney
Contact: Robbie Sherwood, Public Affairs
Two Tempe Men Convicted of Conspiracy Involving Illegal Purchase of AK-47-Style Firearms
PHOENIX – John Saliba Shahin, 25, of Tempe, was found guilty on Wednesday, June 15, 2011, of conspiracy to make false statements in the acquisition of firearms and aiding and abetting the making of false statements in the acquisition of firearms, by a federal jury in Phoenix, Arizona. In an earlier, related trial on Thursday, June 2, 2011, Jessie Lee Harris, 22, of Tempe, was found guilty of making a false statement in the acquisition of firearms and of conspiracy to make false statements in the acquisition of firearms, by a federal jury in Phoenix, Arizona. The cases were both tried before United States District Court Judge Neil V. Wake.
On January 24, 2010, Harris purchased eight Romanian Draco 7.62 x 39 millimeter pistols from a gun show in Phoenix. Romanian Draco 7.62 x 39 millimeter pistols are AK-47-style firearms that have a shortened barrel and a pistol grip. Harris made his purchase in cash and made a false statement on the firearms transaction form by claiming to be the actual purchaser of the firearms. In fact, Harris was recruited to purchase the firearms by Shahin, who paid him to make the purchase. From Shahin, Harris received the cash and instructions regarding which firearms to purchase and where to purchase them. Harris then attended the gun show with Shahin and delivered the firearms to Shahin’s house. Harris received approximately $400 to commit the crime. During the investigation, federal agents learned that Shahin had purchased two of the exact same firearms, with cash, on the day before, January 23, 2010, from the same gun show. The investigators also learned that Harris conspired with Shahin and another man from Tempe to make another cash purchase of 10 of the exact same type of firearms from a gun show in Phoenix on April 24, 2010.
A conviction for making a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of five years prison, a $250,000.00 fine or both. In determining the actual sentences, District Court Judge Neil V. Wake will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives with assistance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The prosecution was initially handled by Kory Langhofer, a former Assistant U.S.
Attorney, District of Arizona. The trial attorneys for the United States were Mark Kokanovich and Theresa Rassas, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona.
CASE NUMBER: CR-10-1165-PHX-NVW
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-120(Shahin)
For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az