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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Western District of Washington

For Immediate Release

February 14, 2012

Jenny A. Durkan, United States Attorney

Contact: Emily Langlie

Kent Man Indicted for Illegally Selling Gun Later Used in Chicago Area Murder

Defendant Knowingly Sold Firearm to Canadian Now Serving Life for Murder

A Kent, Washington man is being summoned to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle this week, following his indictment for illegal transfer of a firearm to a non-state resident. BENEDICT C. LADERA, 31, was indicted last week by the grand jury, and is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 9:00. LADERA, who is not a licensed gun dealer, knowingly sold a .40 caliber handgun to Demetry Smirnov, a Canadian citizen. Smirnov later used the gun in the murder of 36-year-old Vitka Jesel, an Oak Brook, Illinois woman he met on line.

LADERA allegedly sold the gun to Smirnov in Washington in early April 2011. On the evening of April 13, 2011, Smirnov used the gun to murder Jesel in Illinois as she left a museum where she volunteered. Smirnov confessed to police. In July 2011, Smirnov pleaded guilty to first degree murder accepting a prison term of life behind bars.

LADERA had no knowledge of Smirnov's plan to stalk and murder Jesel. The indictment alleges he knowingly sold the firearm to someone from outside the State of Washington in violation of federal law.

Illegal transfer of a firearm to a non-state resident is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Oak Brook Illinois Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hobbs. Mr. Hobbs is a Senior Deputy King County Prosecutor, specially designated to prosecute firearms cases in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.