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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of North Carolina
Dena J. King, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 19, 2022

Licensed Firearms Dealer Is Sentenced for Selling a Firearm to a Prohibited Person

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Edward Clyde Ledford, 57, of Lenoir, N.C., a federal firearms licensee (FFL) doing business as Whitnel Outdoorsman and Pawn, for knowingly selling a firearm to a prohibited person, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Brian Mein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

“When a federal firearms dealer sells a gun to a prohibited person, that’s one more illegal firearm in our streets that can be used to commit a crime,” said U.S. Attorney King. “As we continue to intensify our efforts to reduce the risk of guns falling into the wrong hands, we must hold accountable gun sellers who put gain before the safety of our community.”

“Keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited individuals is the absolute first step towards preventing violent gun crime,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Mein. “While the vast majority of our licensed firearms dealers are respectful of the laws in place, those that choose to violate those laws and jeopardize public safety will face the consequences.”

According to information contained in court documents and court proceedings, on April 15, 2019, an individual who was prohibited from possessing a firearm entered the Whitnel Outdoorsman and Pawn in Lenoir. Court records show that the individual told a store employee that he was interested in purchasing a firearm but would not pass the background check due to prior felonies on his record. The store employee advised the prohibited individual to “bring a buddy back” to fill out the paperwork.

Court documents state that a few days later, on April 18, 2019, the prohibited individual returned to the store with an undercover ATF agent posing as a friend. This time, the prohibited individual spoke with Ledford and again explained that he wanted to purchase a firearm but could not pass the background check. The prohibited individual also told Ledford that, at the suggestion of a store employee, he had brought someone who could pass the background check, and essentially be the straw buyer for the firearm. Ledford did not object, and, over the course of their exchange, the prohibited individual pointed to the semiautomatic shotgun he wanted to purchase. Ledford handed him the firearm and the prohibited individual paid Ledford in cash for the shotgun. Ledford also gave the undercover agent the ATF Form 4473 to fill out for the background check. Once the form was processed and the sale was completed the prohibited individual took possession of the firearm in the presence of Ledford.

Ledford was sentenced to two years of probation and five months of home detention, after pleading guilty to selling a firearm to a prohibited person on November 30, 2021.

U.S. Attorney King credited the ATF for the investigation of this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Alfredo De La Rosa of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte handled the prosecution for the government.

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