For Immediate Release
Asheville Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Gun Possession, After Using a Straw Buyer To Obtain a Firearm
Three Others Have Been Charged in Connection With the Straw Purchase of Firearms
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Acting U.S. Attorney William T. Stetzer announced today that Travis Shaqwann Fair, 31, of Asheville, has pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm.Fair’s trial was scheduled to begin today before Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger. Just prior to jury selection, Fair elected instead to enter a guilty plea which was accepted by Judge Reidinger.
Fair’s girlfriend and co-defendant, Kourtney Nichelle Shivers, 29, of Asheville, has already pleaded guilty to making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm.
According to filed plea documents and today’s court hearing, on June 10, 2019, Fair visited a licensed firearms dealer in Asheville. Fair, who has a prior criminal conviction and is prohibiting from purchasing or possessing firearms, consulted with a store employee about purchasing a “cheap” firearm. The store employee showed Fair several firearms, including a 9mm firearm. Fair left the store shortly thereafter. According to court documents, a short while later, Shivers entered the same store and purchased the same firearm Fair had recently examined. As she previously admitted in court, over the course of the transaction, Shivers falsely certified on the required forms that she was the actual buyer of the firearm, when, in reality, she was a straw purchaser who bought the handgun at Fair’s request and for his use. Court records show that Fair provided Shivers with the funds to purchase the firearm, which she agreed to do, even though Shivers was aware that Fair was prohibited from possessing a firearm. Shivers later transferred the firearm to Fair.
Fair is currently in federal custody. The charge to which Fair has pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. The statutory maximum penalty for Shivers’ offense is five years in prison. Both defendants are awating sentencing.
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Charges are also pending against three other individuals on charges related to the straw purchase of firearms.
In July 2021, a federal grand jury indicted Margaret Amanda Garmon, 36, of Charlotte, in connection with the straw purchase of a firearm from a federally licensed dealer of firearms. The indictment alleges that Garmon purchased the firearm for her co-defendant, Caleb Tharon Jefferson, 32, also Charlotte. The same indictment also charges Jefferson with possession of a firearm by a felon.
On August 17, 2021, Nyema Nakuay Cropper, 30, of Charlotte, was charged for allegedly straw purchasing a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer, falsely certifying on federal forms that Cropper was the actual buyer of the firearm, a statement she allegedly knew to be false.
“Straw purchasing firearms is a violation of our federal gun laws,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer. “We must stop the flow of illegal guns in our communities, and that includes prosecuting straw purchasers who knowingly buy firearms for individuals prohibited from possessing them in the first place.”
“Purchasing a firearm for someone prohibited from possessing a firearm is illegal and can be a serious threat to public safety,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Vince Pallozzi. “Straw purchases put firearms in the wrong hands. ATF, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to preventing illegal firearms purchases and holding those who endanger our communities accountable.”
In making today’s announcement, Acting U.S. Attorney Stetzer commended the ATF for their investigative efforts into straw firearms buyers, and thanked the Asheville Police Department for their invaluable assistance in Fair and Shivers’ case.
The charges against Garmon, Jefferson, and Cropper are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is in charge of Fair and Shivers’ prosecution.