Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

DOJ seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Iowa
Timothy T. Duax, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Felon Who Pretended to Work for the ATF to Steal Firearms Sentenced to Federal Prison

Convinced Acquaintance to Give Him 7 Firearms Based on False Representations That He Was Working for the ATF

A felon who possessed twenty firearms in May and June 2023 was sentenced on April 11, 2024, to more than eight years in federal prison.

Ken Nakato, age 36, from Coralville, Iowa, received the prison term after an October 20, 2023 guilty plea to one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Information from a plea agreement and sentencing hearing showed that on May 17, 2023, Hiawatha police officers responded to a domestic disturbance involving Nakato.  Officers began to assist Nakato with removing his belongings, including several firearms, from a residence, but a criminal history check showed Nakato had a felony conviction.  Nakato falsely denied being a felon.  Officers seized seven firearms, including a short-barreled rifle, from the residence and Nakato’s car. 

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) spoke with Nakato at his residence on May 19, 2023, and Nakato admitted that he was not allowed to possess firearms.  That night, Nakato texted someone else that he was officially an employee of the ATF, which would be “a clear record.”  On May 23, 2023, Nakato told an acquaintance that he was working for the ATF, and he needed to seize the acquaintance’s firearms.  Nakato took seven firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition from the acquaintance.  Law enforcement subsequently seized these seven firearms from Nakato on May 24 and May 25, 2023.

On June 7, 2023, Nakato convinced a family member to buy two firearms for him from a licensed firearms dealer in Coralville.  He was in possession of one of those firearms on June 15, 2023, when he was pulled over by Iowa City police officers.  Between May 17, 2023, and June 15, 2023, Nakato possessed at least twenty firearms.         

Nakato was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge C.J. Williams.  Nakato was sentenced to 100 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case is 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Nakato is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kyndra Lundquist and investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Hiawatha Police Department, the Iowa State Patrol, the Coralville Police Department, and the Iowa City Police Department. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 23-CR-0048.

Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

An official website of the U.S. Department of Justice

Looking for U.S. government information and services?