For Immediate Release
West Suburban Drug Dealer Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for Selling Dozens of Guns Later Used in Chicago Shootings
CHICAGO — A federal judge today sentenced a Lisle man to 16 years in prison for putting at least 80 firearms into the hands of known gang members on the streets of Chicago.
WALTER FREEMAN obtained the guns from a co-defendant, TIMOTHY VANA, in exchange for crack cocaine. Freeman later sold the guns to individuals he knew to be members of Chicago street gangs. Several of the guns were used in shootings and other crimes in and around Chicago.
Freeman, 36, of Lisle, pleaded guilty last year to one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing a controlled substance, and one count of knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He also stipulated to being a felon in possession of a firearm in a charge that was filed in a separate indictment.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman imposed the 16-year sentence in federal court in Chicago.
“Defendant’s possession and sale of at least 80 weapons directly contributed to the violence that our city faces,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Levin said in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “He has victimized the entire Chicago community.”
According to a written plea agreement, Freeman sold approximately seven grams of crack cocaine per week to a regular group of customers from 2008 to 2013. He also admitted selling crack cocaine to an undercover law enforcement agent on several occasions in 2011 and 2012.
Freeman obtained 40 guns from Vana between 1999 and 2001, and another 40 between 2010 and 2011. The guns included revolvers and semi-automatic weapons. Vana had stolen the guns from an avid firearms collector who resided at Vana’s family’s home in Bolingbrook.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives later recovered many of the weapons after they had been involved in shootings and other crimes in and around Chicago. ATF agents traced the serial numbers of the guns and learned they had been purchased by the same owner, who resided in Vana’s family’s house. Further investigation revealed the drugs-for-guns arrangement between Vana and Freeman.
Vana, 54, of Forest Park, pleaded guilty last month to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of knowingly possessing a firearm that he had reasonable cause to believe was stolen. Vana’s sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo will be scheduled at a later date.
Freeman’s sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffery Magee, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Chicago Field Division. The Cook County Sheriff’s Police and the Illinois State Police assisted in the investigation.