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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Southern District of Texas

For Immediate Release

August 2, 2012

United States Attorney

Contact: Angela Dodge

Three Arrested for Alleged Unlawful Manufacturing of Firearms

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two men and one woman have been charged with aiding, abetting and assisting one another in dealing and manufacturing firearms without a federal license, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The seven-count sealed indictment, returned July 25, 2012, was unsealed upon the arrests of Michael Yarbrough, 22, Ashley Phillips, 24, and Stephen Atkinson, 29, all of Corpus Christi.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janis B. Ellington in Corpus Christi today at 2:00 p.m., at which time the U.S. expects to seek their detention without bond pending further criminal proceedings.

Yarbrough, Phillips and Atkinson are charged with aiding, abetting, and assisting one another in willfully engaging in the business of dealing in and manufacturing firearms without a federal license between Jan. 1, 2011 up to the date of the indictment, July 25, 2012. If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison.

Phillips and Yarbrough are charged with one and two counts, respectively, of making a false statement to a federal agent for which they face up to another five years in prison for each count of conviction.

Yarbrough is additionally charged with aiding, abetting and assisting in the making of a false statement to a licensed firearm dealer on Feb. 14, 2011, as well as willfully assembling more than 10 imported parts for a semiautomatic rifle for which he also faces up to five years in prison. The indictment further alleges he knowingly shipped, transported and received firearms or ammunition knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that a felony offense was to be committed. If convicted of this charge, he faces an additional 10 years in prison.

The indictment includes a notice of the government's intent to seek the forfeiture of 74 firearms, the subject of a civil lawsuit pending in the Southern District of Texas.

The multi-agency investigation leading to the criminal charges was lead by the ATF the Corpus Christi Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Nueces County Sheriff's Office and the United States Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie K. Hampton.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.