Five indicted in Michigan to Chicago straw purchasing scheme

Five men have been indicted in a straw purchasing scheme that brought at least nine handguns from Michigan to Chicago, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

The indictment alleges Michigan residents Cornelius Battle and Dalrick Drain bought guns from licensed dealers in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and then sold them to Chicago resident Nathaniel McElroy for higher prices. Battle and Drain allegedly falsified information on the required paperwork, saying they were buying the guns for themselves.

During the first six months of 2017, the trio, along with co-defendants Reginald Johnson and Lashon Moore, were responsible for bringing at least nine handguns from Michigan to Chicago, according to court documents.

The specific charges include one count of conspiracy to willfully deal firearms without a license, to willfully transfer firearms to non-Michigan residents, and to knowingly make false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm; and one count of willfully dealing firearms without a license.

“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to aggressively using federal firearm laws to keep illegal guns off the streets,” said Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “We will use whatever federal tools are appropriate to prosecute straw purchasers and hold them accountable for bringing illegal firearms into Chicago.”

McElroy, Battle, and Moore have all been arrested, while arrest warrants have been issued for Drain and Johnson, who were not in custody as of Tuesday.

If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum of 5 years for each count.