For Immediate Release
Convicted Gun Trafficker Pleads Guilty to Firearms Charges
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Jonathan M. Cuney, age 38, and a part-time resident of East Greenbush, New York, pled guilty today to unlawfully possessing firearms including “ghost guns,” and ammunition, and admitted to maintaining large collections of firearms and ammunition in East Greenbush and Humboldt County, California.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).
Cuney pled guilty to unlawfully possessing, as a felon, a Springfield Armory rifle and an FMK Firearms Inc. AR-15-style rifle receiver/frame, and to possessing three unregistered silencers, between September 9, 2019 and November 14, 2019.
Cuney has a prior conviction for unlawful gun trafficking. In December 2015, he pled guilty, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, to transporting and selling firearms with obliterated serial numbers while he was a licensed firearms dealer. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison, and returned to East Greenbush in April 2017 upon his release from prison.
Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon stated: “Today’s guilty plea is the result of a cross-country investigation that took a dangerous person off the streets. Jonathan Cuney has a prior conviction for selling untraceable firearms. After his release from prison, he built ghost guns and acquired other firearms, and maintained large caches of firearms and ammunition in New York and California. I commend the ATF for investigating Cuney as he travelled across the United States, and for quickly arresting him and removing this threat to our communities.”
ATF Special Agent in Charge John B. DeVito stated: “Jonathan Cuney’s criminal record makes it abundantly clear that he is a danger to the community. This case is the product of a concerted, collaborative effort across multiple ATF jurisdictions to identify and stop the sale of illegal firearms. We will always be committed to removing armed criminals from our communities who threaten the safety of our citizens.”
In pleading guilty today, Cuney also admitted that from at least August 2018 until November 12, 2019, he purchased firearms parts from several dozen online retailers, and had these items shipped to East Greenbush; Willits, California (where he maintained a residence); and Providence, Rhode Island (where he formerly maintained a legitimate firearms business). Cuney then used these firearms parts to manufacture non-serialized handguns, rifles, and silencers. These firearms are often called “ghost guns” because they do not have serial numbers, making them more difficult for law enforcement to trace.
ATF searched Cuney’s East Greenbush storage unit on November 14, 2019, and found it to contain, among other items:
- Two (2) rifles,
- One (1) revolver,
- Four (4) serialized AR-15-style rifle receivers/frames,
- Two (2) completed “ghost guns,”
- Five (5) pistol parts kits,
- Two (2) completed silencers and enough parts to build more than ten (10) silencers,
- An assorted quantity of firearm parts and accessories, of which five (5) are classified as machineguns under federal law, and
- 3,250 rounds of assorted rifle and pistol ammunition.
Cuney also rented a storage unit in Redway, California. ATF searched this storage unit on November 20, 2019, and found it to contain, among other items:
- Two (2) Glock pistols,
- Seven (7) additional handguns,
- Three (3) rifles,
- One (1) shotgun,
- Five (5) machinegun conversion kits,
- More than ten (10) silencers, and
- More than 1,000 rounds of assorted rifle and handgun ammunition.
Today, Cuney also pled guilty to unlawfully possessing, on September 17, 2019, in Columbia, Missouri, several thousand rounds of ammunition that he purchased at a firearms store through a straw purchaser.
He also pled guilty to unlawfully possessing, on November 12, 2019, near Tucson, Arizona, a pistol and a rifle, which were discovered during a traffic stop of a vehicle that Cuney was driving.
Cuney pled guilty to these additional federal charges, in Albany federal court, with the consent of the Acting United States Attorneys for the District of Arizona and the Western District of Missouri, respectively.
Cuney has been in custody since November 12, 2019. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release, when Senior United States District Judge Frederick J. Scullin sentences him on October 19, 2021. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
As part of his plea agreement, Cuney also agreed to abandon a variety of firearms, silencers, ammunition, and firearm parts found in both East Greenbush and Redway, California, as well as the following items, all found in Redway: one pair of handcuffs with key; 56 Monadnock disposable single cuffs; and clothing items, patches and badges bearing law enforcement acronyms and insignia, including a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ball cap, FBI badges, FBI patches, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) patches, and DEA badges.
These cases were investigated by the ATF New York Field Division, with assistance from ATF Special Agents and Task Force Officers in Arizona, California, Missouri, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. The California Highway Patrol also assisted in the investigation.
The New York case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett.
The Arizona case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Serra M. Tsethlikai of the District of Arizona.
The Missouri case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver of the Western District of Missouri.