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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Colorado

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 12, 2011

John F. Walsh, United States Attorney

Felon Caught in Possession of Firearms Including Firearms Stolen From Bent’s Fort and Other Historic Sites Sentenced to Federal Prison

DENVER – Jeffrey Scott Willcoxon, age 32, of Otero County, was sentenced to serve 90 months (over 7 years) in federal prison for being a felon in possession of firearms, United States Attorney John Walsh and ATF Special Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson announced. Willcoxon was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer. Following his prison term, the defendant was ordered by the judge to serve 3 years of supervised release. Willcoxon was caught by local authorities and the ATF selling automatic weapons as well as historic weapons. Willcoxon was a felon, making it illegal for him to possess firearms.

According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in August 2010, a Las Animas Police Officer contacted an ATF Special Agent about several residential burglaries where approximately 25 to 50 firearms had been stolen. The Las Animas officer stated that during his investigation into the stolen firearms he determined that a suspect named Jeffrey Willcoxon was directing several juveniles to steal firearms. The officer had been in contact with both the Otero and Bent County Sheriff’s Offices and understood that each of those counties also had several burglaries involving the same group of people. Further, the officer learned that Willcoxon was taking the stolen firearms to a local man who was known as an avid firearms collector.

Later an ATF Special Agent spoke with an Otero County Undersheriff who advised the agent that between April 4, 2010 and September 28, 2010 three historic sites located in either Bent or Otero Counties, including Bent’s Fort, had been burglarized. During these burglaries reproduction flintlock firearms, buffalo furs, cash and other items were taken. The Undersheriff then issued a press release asking for the public’s help in locating the stolen historic items. The publicity resulted in a tip from a Pueblo, Colorado resident who stated that he purchased what he believed was a stolen buffalo skin. The description the tipster gave matched Willcoxon. A photo lineup confirmed that Willcoxon was the person who sold the buffalo fur. Over the next several months ATF Task Force Officers working in an undercover capacity made a number of purchases of firearms from Willcoxon, including historic firearms as well as fully automatic rifles with silencers. An undercover officer told the defendant that he, the officer, was a felon and not allowed to possess firearms. Willcoxon sold the weapons to him anyway. A total of twenty six firearms, including machine guns, silencers, stolen firearms and stolen historic firearms were purchased or seized during this investigation.

This joint investigation illustrates the collaborative effort of law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels working together to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, said ATFSpecial Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson. We will continue to combine our resources to protect our citizens from violent crime and make our communities a safer place to live.

The staff of Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site wishes to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Park Service Special Agents, and the Otero and Bent County Sheriff's Offices for their collaboration and professionalism in the quick resolution of this case, said Alexa Roberts, Superintendent of Bent's Old Fort.

This case was investigated by the Pueblo ATF Gun Task Force, the Pueblo Police Department, the Las Animas Police Department, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, the Bent County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Park Service.

Willcoxon was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt Bohn.