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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia
Jessica D. Aber, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Friday, January 27, 2023

New York Man Sentenced for Straw Purchasing and Unlawfully Possessing Firearms

NORFOLK, Va. – A Brooklyn, New York, man was sentenced today to 72 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and aiding and abetting a straw purchase firearm transaction, both part of a large gun trafficking conspiracy.

According to court documents, Joseph Alexander Johnson, 38, spearheaded an interstate straw purchasing and gun trafficking conspiracy in which members were responsible for the illegal purchase, sale, and transport of at least 43 firearms, including AR-type firearms loaded with large-capacity magazines, between Virginia and New York. He organized and led the conspiracy, managing every aspect of it. As a felon, he could not lawfully obtain or possess a firearm, so he instead recruited at least three straw purchasers, all young women with no criminal records, to buy them for him. Once the straw purchasers obtained the guns and transferred them to him or his co-defendant, Tysohn Stevens, 39, of Brooklyn, New York, Johnson marketed the illegally purchased firearms over Facebook to many felons and gang members throughout Brooklyn.

Stevens pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and will be sentenced on February 24.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Christopher Amon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Jackson prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:22-cr-64.

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