For Immediate Release
Independence Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Selling Firearms
Some Firearms Found at Crime Scenes: “I Knew This Would Happen Eventually”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An Independence, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to illegally selling firearms without a license, some of which have been seized during arrests at several crime scenes.
Frank E. Hedden, 25, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license.
By pleading guilty today, Hedden admitted that he sold 21 firearms to an undercover special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for a total of $11,155 between Feb. 26 and July 16, 2019.
On May 7, 2019, investigators served Hedden with a warning notice. Investigators explained to Hedden that several firearms he purchased from licensed firearms dealers had been recovered in crimes within a relatively short amount of time after Hedden purchased them. This indicated Hedden could be re-selling them, thereby dealing in firearms without a license. Investigators further explained to Hedden that he could be prosecuted if he was buying firearms with the intent to resell them. Hedden signed an acknowledgement receipt for the Warning Notice of Unlicensed Firearms Dealing in Violation of Federal Law.
A few days later, however, Hedden met again with the undercover agent and illegally sold the agent two pistols for $1,200. During that meeting, which was recorded, Hedden told the undercover agent about the warning notice. “I don’t know if it’s anything, you know, of your or somebody else,” he said, “they said I had several firearms show up in crime scenes lately.” Hedden then added, “I knew this would happen eventually.”
The undercover agent told Hedden the firearms he purchased were going to Mexico and asked Hedden if he could obtain more AK-47 type pistols, to which Hedden responded “Yeah. So, I’ll have to figure out something … I’m going to try to figure something out cause like I said, I like doing the business, it’s nice to come into a little extra money.”
Hedden subsequently sold three more firearms to the undercover agent on two separate occasions.
On July 17, 2019, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hedden’s residence and seized 33 firearms (which must be forfeited to the government). Officers also seized a red binder that contained 100 bills of sale for firearms; 18 of the documents were for firearms sold to the undercover agent, 72 of the documents were for firearms that Hedden sold to other individuals, and 10 of the documents were for firearms that Hedden purchased from other individuals.
Under federal statutes, Hedden is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement to specifically identify criminals responsible for significant violent crime in the Western District of Missouri. A centerpiece of this effort is Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods is an evidence-based program that identifies the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develops comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, Project Safe Neighborhoods focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.