By Ed Brock
A College Park man was one of three men recently sentenced to federal prison in an ongoing crackdown on a scheme to buy guys legally and sell them to people who can't legally buy weapons. This scheme is known as "straw purchasers."
Kevin Ernesto Winborn, 22, was sentenced on Jan. 12 to a year in prison for his role in a 2004 crime in which Winborn and two others bought weapons to sell illegally to people who are prohibited from buying the guns themselves, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta. His arrest came as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms which continues to pursue those engaged in "lying and buying."
Between January and March of 2004 Winborn and his co-conspirators bought 22 guns from a store in Jonesboro. Six of the guns were recovered in Stone Mountain, another three in New York and another in Fayetteville, N.C., from a person on his way to New York.
ATF Agent Gary Orchowski said he couldn't release more details about Winborn's case.
"There are still other individuals pending prosecution and investigation on that case," Orchowski said.
Other recent convictions in unrelated cases include Michael Antonio Watson, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, who was sentenced to a year and three months in prison for making a straw purchase from a Gwinnett County pawn shop when he lived in Atlanta in 2003, and Troy Desean Owens, 30, of Tucker. Owens, a convicted felon, pleaded guilty to buying two guns from a straw purchaser.
"Lying and buying" is a very serious crime, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said in a statement.
"Straw purchasers contribute to violent crime by putting firearms into the hands of dangerous felons," Nahmias said. "Straw purchases are often discovered when ATF agents trace firearms recovered at the scenes of murders and robberies."
Nahmias added that straw purchasers often put their freedom at risk and make the buys for very little money, and he urged others not to commit the crime.
"You are gambling with the innocent lives of others, the livelihood of the licensed firearms dealer and destroying your own future by committing a federal firearms felony offense," Nahmias said. "Don't lie for the other guy."
Clayton County police did not participate in Winborn's case, Capt. Jeff Turner said, but they will investigate any complaint brought to them about possible straw buys.
"If it falls under federal guidelines we'll turn it over to the ATF," Turner said, adding that the department may also assist the ATF in the investigation.
Turner also said that straw purchasers put guns into the wrong hands.
"If the people getting the guns can't purchase them, obviously that's for a reason," Turner said.