For Immediate Release
Straw Purchases of Firearms Lead to Prison Sentences for Shawano Men
Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that two Shawano men were recently sentenced to prison sentences after convictions for firearms offenses in Northeastern Wisconsin. On December 12, 2017, Gary W. Hancock (age: 24) was sentenced to 15 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release. On December 18, 2017, Jesus Zepeda (age: 29) was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in prison and 24 months of supervised release. The sentences were the result of guilty pleas in September 2017 to a count of Making False Statements During the Purchase of a Firearm, a violation of Title 18 United States Code, section 922(a)(6). The two men received the sentence from Chief United States District Judge William C. Griesbach.
The investigation revealed that on three separate dates in 2014, Hancock engaged in the straw purchase of three firearms at the urging of Zepeda, who assisted Hancock in obtaining the firearms from licensed dealers in the Green Bay area. Hancock made false statements on forms required as part of the firearms background check, and transferred the firearms, with assistance from Zepeda, to individuals who were prohibited from possessing the weapons under federal law. Two of the firearms were among a total of 16 recovered by US Customs and Border Patrol in August 2015 from a vehicle attempting to transport them into Mexico from the United States. Another was recovered in August 2015 as part of a drug-related search warrant executed at a residence in California.
In sentencing Hancock and Zepeda, Chief Judge Griesbach noted the serious nature of the offense, stating to Hancock "you didn’t pull the trigger, but your actions could have allowed someone else to." During the sentencing hearing for Zepeda, Chief Judge Griesbach remarked that "a message needed to be sent to those who would buy firearms in order to transfer them" to people who cannot possess them lawfully.
The case was investigated by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; United States Customs and Border Patrol; and Shawano County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew J. Maier.