For Immediate Release
Three People Plead Guilty to Illegally Providing Firearms to Essa Williams, Alleged Shooter of Phoenix Police Department Officer Tyler Moldovan
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Erika LaRae Williams, 51, of Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty on May 22, 2023, to Making a Material False Statement During the Purchase of a Firearm. Williams purchased a Taurus G3 pistol from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) on September 3, 2020, for her son, Essa Williams, five months after his release from the Arizona Department of Corrections. During the purchase, Williams completed the Firearms Transactions Record, and represented that she was the actual purchaser of the firearm. However, Williams knew she was purchasing the firearm on behalf of her son. Essa Williams is pending trial in Maricopa County Superior Court for allegedly shooting Phoenix Police Department (PPD) Officer Tyler Moldovan on December 14, 2021. This Taurus G3 pistol was not the firearm that was used to shoot Officer Moldovan. Sentencing for Erika Williams is scheduled for July 31, 2023, before United States District Judge Steven P. Logan. A conviction for Making a Material False Statement During the Purchase of a Firearm carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
On May 24, 2023, Dwayne Keith Anderson, 51, of Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty to Aiding and Abetting the Making of a False Statement During the Purchase of a Firearm. At the time, Anderson was a FFL, doing business in Phoenix, Arizona. Anderson met Essa Williams at a gun show, where he told Essa Williams he could assist him with firearm sales by helping him avoid a background check. On December 13, 2021, Essa Williams texted Anderson information for a female, in addition to a photo of her ID. Anderson filled out the Firearms Transaction Record with the false information of the female, including her signature. Through that transaction, Anderson actually sold a Masterpiece Arms Defender 9mm pistol to Essa Williams. Although Anderson knew that the true purchaser of the firearm must fill out the Firearms Transaction Record, Anderson completed the form using the false information, knowing Essa Williams was not providing his true identification. Anderson had never met the female, and only saw Essa Williams again when Essa arrived at Anderson’s house in a black Dodge Charger to pick up the firearm. Upon completion of the transaction, Essa Williams left with the firearm.
On December 14, 2021, pursuant to a search warrant, PPD detectives searched Essa Williams’ black Dodge Charger after the shooting of Officer Moldovan. During the search, detectives found the Masterpiece Arms Defender 9mm pistol on the back seat floorboard. This Masterpiece Arms Defender 9mm pistol was not the firearm that was used to shoot Officer Moldovan. Sentencing for Anderson is scheduled for August 7, 2023, before Judge Logan. A conviction for Aiding and Abetting the Making of a False Statement During the Purchase of a Firearm carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Alice Berdicchia, 24, of Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty last week to Misprision of a Felony. On November 26, 2021, Berdicchia agreed to bring Essa Williams, her boyfriend, a Glock 9 mm pistol. At the time Essa Williams possessed the firearm, Berdicchia knew that Essa Williams had been convicted of numerous felonies, and she also knew that Essa Williams could not legally possess a firearm. Berdicchia deliberately helped Essa Williams illegally possess a firearm and helped him conceal that crime. This Glock 9 mm pistol was not the firearm that was used to shoot Officer Moldovan. Sentencing for Berdicchia is scheduled for August 14, 2023, before Judge Logan. A conviction for Misprision of a Felony carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix, is handling the prosecution.
CASE NUMBER: CR-22-00277-PHX-SPL (ESW) RELEASE NUMBER: 2023-092_Williams