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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Ohio
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 20, 2022

Columbus Man Pleads Guilty to Making and Selling ‘Ghost Guns’

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A local man pleaded guilty in federal court today to making and selling “ghost guns,” untraceable homemade weapons made in whole or in part with a 3D printer.

Court documents detail that Thomas Develin, 25, of Columbus, also made antisemitic and violent statements online while employed to provide security services at local synagogues and Jewish schools.

Develin admitted in his plea agreement that he created ghost guns to sell for profit. He also made and possessed homemade conversion devices to convert semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and Glock-type pistols into fully automatic machine guns. Develin admitted that he made and sold firearms that he knew were illegal.

Develin advertised online that he possessed and was selling 3D-printed sears, which are devices designed to convert semiautomatic AR-type rifles into fully automatic rifles. Devices that are intended to convert semiautomatic firearms into fully automatic firearms are considered “machineguns” under federal law. Other messages on Develin’s phone stated that he had manufactured a two-handed firearm with an overall length under 26 inches, which is illegal.

On March 31, the day Develin was arrested, agents discovered in his vehicle: night vision goggles, ballistic plates, a ballistic helmet, first aid equipment and a large quantity of ammunition including several loaded magazines.

Agents discovered more than 25 firearms in Develin’s residence and vehicle while executing search warrants in March and April 2022. They also discovered two IED manuals.

Develin admitted in his plea agreement that in late March 2022, he knew law enforcement may be coming for him so he went to the property surrounding the cabin of a person he knew to hide and burn illegal firearms parts. In text messages with another person, Develin also discussed hiding and destroying incriminating evidence. Develin admitted he took these acts with the intent to obstruct the investigation.

The defendant has been charged in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas with various crimes, including making terroristic threats. Those charges remain pending.

Illegally making firearms and unlawfully engaging in the business of manufacturing and dealing machine guns are federal crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Manufacturing and dealing any firearms without a license are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Daryl S. McCormick, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant announced the guilty plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison. The law enforcement agencies were assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Assistant United States Attorneys Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and Jessica W. Knight are representing the United States in this case.

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