For Immediate Release
Jury Convicts Man in Federal "Lie and Buy" Trial of Making a False Statement During Purchase of a Firearm
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After a three-day trial, a federal jury found James Williams, Jr., 29, guilty of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Ray Roundtree of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for the San Francisco Field Division.
“I am proud to announce Nevada’s first conviction under Project Guardian—our new gun violence reduction initiative,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Lying to a licensed firearms dealer and buying a gun for someone else is a serious offense. My office will continue to work closely with ATF and local law enforcement to prosecute these crimes.”
“Public safety is at the forefront of ATF’s mission,” said Special Agent in Charge Roundtree. “Our focus is removing crime guns from our communities. To reiterate what ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo said, the focus of Project Guardian is to enhance our crime gun intelligence. This enhancement will encompass identifying, investigating and prosecuting those involved in the straw purchases of firearms, lying on federal firearms transaction forms, and those subject to the mental health prohibition of possessing firearms. We are very happy to announce Nevada’s first Project Guardian conviction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between May 2017 and May 2018, Williams purchased 35 firearms, mostly pistols, and many of the same make and model, from various Las Vegas firearms dealers. In May 2018, when purchasing one of those firearms, Williams made a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer regarding his residential address in Las Vegas, Nevada. At trial, his former roommate testified that Williams had not lived at that address for over a year at the time he made the false statement. The jury at trial found Williams guilty of falsely stating his address in the Firearms Transaction Record form that he completed when he purchased the firearm and acquitted him of illegal acquisition of a firearm for one set of those purchases.
The case was the product of an investigation by the ATF, with the assistance of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared Grimmer and Tony Lopez prosecuted the case.
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Chief Judge Miranda M. Du on January 29, 2020. Williams faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the ATF when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.
For more information about Project Guardian, visit https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barr-announces-launch-project-guardian-nationwide-strategic-plan.