For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
, United States Attorney
Scott C. Blader
Contact: Kevin Burke
Columbia County Man Sentenced to Year in Prison for Unlicensed Gun Dealing
St. Paul Field Division
MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Eugene Ripp, 66, Arlington, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William Conley to one year and one day in federal prison for dealing in firearms without a license. This term of imprisonment will be followed by two years of supervised release. Ripp pleaded guilty to this charge on February 20, 2019.
In July 2015, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) presented Ripp with a Cease and Desist Letter, informing him that he could be prosecuted if he continued to engage in the business of selling firearms without a Federal Firearms License (FFL). At the time, the ATF had citizen complaints that Ripp was dealing in firearms, including at gun shows. Before issuing the Cease and Desist Letter, undercover contacts were made at gun shows to confirm that Ripp was selling firearms without a license. After confirming this, the ATF warned Ripp to stop dealing in firearms without a license.
In a July 14, 2015 interview with ATF agents, Ripp was warned verbally and in writing of the potential for prosecution if he continued to engage in the business of selling firearms without a license. Shortly after receiving the Cease and Desist Letter, Ripp continued to deal in firearms at gun shows. An undercover agent engaged Ripp in communications about purchasing firearms, even indicating that some of the firearms that the undercover agent was purchasing were intended for other unnamed individuals. Because Ripp did not have an FFL, he did not go through the background check process on prospective customers.
Ripp was heard on recorded undercover sales of firearms expressing concern that the firearms could get traced back to him if the firearms fell into the wrong hands. Ripp can be heard expressing concern that the ATF might be watching him, and instructing the undercover agent to not tell anyone that the firearms came from him. Several firearms were sold to the undercover agent in transactions occurring inside Ripp’s vehicle in the parking lots of businesses in DeForest and Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, all without background checks. These sales occurred after Ripp had received the Cease and Desist Letter, and after Ripp had been made aware that some of his previously sold firearms had been used in crimes.
In rejecting the defense request that Ripp merely receive probation, Judge Conley explained that he had difficulty reconciling the good life that Ripp had led for most of his 66 years and the “callous” conduct of selling firearms that Ripp believed were going to unknown people, even after knowing that previously sold firearms were used in crimes.
Judge Conley indicated that a prison term was necessary to deter other people who might consider engaging in the business of selling firearms without a license. The charge against Ripp was the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke.