DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney
Contact: Joshua Stueve

Felon Sentenced for Straw-Purchase Scheme and Witness Tampering

NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach man was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for firearm and witness tampering crimes.

 “Deaton is a convicted felon who exploited his relationship with his girlfriend to straw-purchase multiple firearms and ammunition,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are doubling down on our efforts across the District to prosecute any and all straw purchasing cases. We cannot allow prohibited individuals to purchase, possess, or traffic firearms. To all those being asked to purchase a firearm for someone else, do not lie for the other guy – It is a felony.”

 According to court documents, Christopher Allen Deaton, 22, a previously convicted felon, was part of a straw-purchasing and gun-trafficking scheme in which he had his girlfriend purchase five handguns for him, so he could resell them at a profit to out-of-state buyers. He drove with his girlfriend to the gun store, told her which guns and ammo to buy, and directed her to commit multiple felonies by lying about being the actual buyer of the guns on a federal form regulating gun transactions. He then took possession of the handguns.

 “Gun traffickers do not simply commit paperwork violations when illegally purchasing, selling and transporting firearms,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division. “These criminals put guns into the hands of serious criminals who pose a significant threat to the safety of our communities. ATF will therefore continue working with our law enforcement partners to combat this illegal practice.”

While in jail on unrelated crimes, Deaton used the jail phone to convince his girlfriend not to cooperate with federal agents or testify in the proceedings against him. He started witness-tampering hours after ATF agents met him at a jail visit to discuss his knowledge about the criminal scheme.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

 G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith. Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-cr-37.



Washington Field Division