U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Western District of Michigan
Western District of Michigan
For Immediate Release
February 20, 2014
Patrick A. Miles, Jr., United States Attorney
Contact: Kaye Hooker
Two Grand Haven Men Sentenced for Stealing Firearms from Gun Stores in Ottawa and Muskegon Counties
CITY GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson, Ottawa County Prosecutor Ronald J. Frantz, and ATF Special Agent in Charge, Steven Bogdalek joined U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles in announcing that Joseph Jerry Sweet, age 33, and Ronald Patrick Cook, age 28, both from the Grand Haven area, were sentenced for their roles in stealing firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees. Cook received a sentence of 156 months, and Sweet received a sentence of 188 months. The defendants were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $23,339.25 for the unrecovered firearms and the damage to the stores. Both were ordered to serve a three-year period of supervised release following their prison sentences.
Sometime during the night on June 27, 2013, the two defendants broke into the Renegade River store in Spring Lake, Michigan, stealing eight firearms. On July 13, 2013, the two broke into the Grasmeyer Brothers Gun & Supply Shop in Dalton Township, Michigan, at approximately 12:30 a.m., stealing 24 firearms, including twenty handguns and four rifles. Nine of the Grasmeyer firearms were later recovered. Most of the remaining firearms were sold or traded to drug dealers, including an individual who was the defendant’s main heroin supplier.
Federal law prohibits the theft of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees. Both stores are federally-licensed firearms dealers. The defendants faced a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.
This case resulted from a coordinated investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department, the Grand Haven Public Safety Department, the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department, and the Michigan State Police-West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET).
U.S. Attorney Miles commented: "These significant federal sentences are the result of an on-going cooperative state and federal effort to combat gun violence in our communities, and they underscore the danger posed by this criminal behavior.
Muskegon County Prosecutor Hilson added: "When it comes to gun violence, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office will continue to work hand in hand with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to make sure that those individuals who engage in illegal gun activity are removed from our neighborhoods so that we as a community are able to enjoy safe days and quiet nights."
Ottawa County Prosecutor Frantz stated: "We appreciate the cooperative efforts of both federal and local law enforcement in bringing these matters to a just conclusion." ATF Special Agent in Charge Bogdalek added, "we understand that firearms which are stolen typically end up in the hands of violent criminals that threaten the safety of our communities every day. Criminals should know that when they steal firearms from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), ATF will respond with our state and local law enforcement partners to apprehend them."
The Honorable Robert J. Jonker presided over this case.