Straw Purchaser Sentenced for Role in Beckley-to-Philadelphia Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy | USAO-SDWV


BECKLEY, W.Va. – Maurice Johnson, 36, of Mount Hope, was sentenced today to one year in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a conspiracy to traffic more than 140 firearms from the Beckley area to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Johnson participated in a conspiracy led by Bisheem Jones, also known as “Bosh,” that trafficked in firearms purchased in the Southern District of West Virginia from around June 2020 to around July 2021. Johnson was among several straw purchasers enlisted to buy the firearms, with Jones or an intermediary telling Johnson what firearms to purchase and providing the money to buy them.

Johnson bought a HS Produkt, Model XDS MOD (Springfield Armory), 9mm pistol and a Ruger, Security-9, 9mm pistol, for Jones in Mount Hope on December 29, 2020. Johnson admitted that he falsely certified on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Federal Firearms Transaction Record Form 4473 that he was the buyer of the firearms when he knew he was purchasing them for Jones and his trafficking conspiracy.

Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to travel interstate with the intent to engage in dealing firearms without a license and making false statements in acquisition of firearms. Johnson is among 18 defendants who pleaded guilty in connection with firearms trafficking. Of the over 140 firearms trafficked in the conspiracy, approximately 45 have been recovered at crime scenes primarily in Philadelphia and have been connected to two homicides, crimes of domestic violence, and other violent offenses. One of the firearms Johnson purchased was recovered at a crime scene in Philadelphia.

After five days of trial, a federal jury found Jones, 37, of Philadelphia, guilty on December 16, 2022, of conspiracy to travel interstate with the intent to deal in firearms without a license, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and interstate travel with the intent to deal in firearms without a license. Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2023, and faces a  maximum penalty of 35 years in prison.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

United States District Judge Frank W. Volk imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorneys Negar M. Kordestani and Steve Loew prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), 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 Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:22-cr-46.





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