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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Wisconsin
Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Grand Jury Returns Two Indictments Involving Firearms

MADISON, WIS. - A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned two firearms-related indictments today. You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and a person named as defendant in an indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Middleton Woman Charged with Straw Purchasing a Firearm for Felon

Shawna Tantillo, 34, Middleton, Wisconsin, is charged with straw purchasing a firearm for a felon, conspiring to violate the law prohibiting felons from possessing firearms, and lying on a firearms purchase form.

The indictment alleges that on November 28, 2023, a person identified as Person 1 asked Tantillo to purchase a firearm. Despite knowing that Person 1 was a felon, Tantillo agreed to purchase the firearm for Person 1. Tantillo purchased a .380 handgun from a Cross Plains, Wisconsin, gun store on December 7, 2023. The indictment further alleges that at the time of the purchase, Tantillo falsely declared on the purchase form that she was the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm. Tantillo picked up the firearm from the gun store on December 8, 2023, and then gave it to Person 1, who in return gave Tantillo the purchase price plus $150. 

If convicted, the conspiracy and false statement charges each carry maximum penalties of 5 years in prison. The straw purchase charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

“Stopping straw buyers and preventing illegal firearms trafficking is our first line of defense against gun violence,” U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea said in announcing the charges. “It is illegal to purchase a firearm posing as the real buyer for someone else. If a friend or relative asks you to lie to a firearms retailer to try to buy a gun for them, don’t do it.” O’Shea said.

The charges against Tantillo were the result of an investigation conducted by the Middleton and Fitchburg Police Departments and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan is handling the case.

Beloit Man Charged with Drug and Gun Crimes

Denzen J. Jones, 41, Beloit, Wisconsin, is charged with distributing cocaine and fentanyl, possessing cocaine for distribution, and maintaining a drug trafficking place. He is also charged with possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon and possessing a loaded firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that Jones committed all these acts between May 27, 2022 and August 23, 2022.

If convicted Jones faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison on each of the drug-related charges. If convicted of the felon in possession charge, he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The charge of possessing a loaded firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense carries a mandatory minimum penalty five years in prison to be served consecutively to any other prison term, and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The charges against Jones are the result of an investigation by the Beloit Police Department, Rock County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Ginsberg is handling the prosecution.

Both cases have been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.

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