HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that a Luzerne County constable was charged for straw purchasing 22 firearms for a convicted felon.
“Court officers hold positions of public trust – and we believe this defendant violated that public trust and broke the law by purchasing firearms for a convicted felon,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “There are serious consequences for straw purchasing, and our Gun Violence Section works every day with our local and federal law enforcement partners to follow up on these guns and hold straw purchasers accountable across Pennsylvania.”
Sidney Snelling, 48, of Wilkes-Barre, was arrested on Thursday, April 28, by members of the Office of Attorney General’s Gun Violence Section, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Luzerne County Detective Bureau, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Investigators allege that Snelling illegally purchased more than 20 firearms for an individual who was determined to be a person not to possess a firearm. Agents also searched Snelling’s car and residence, seizing nine firearms, as well as ammunition and outlaw motorcycle vests.
“Our entire department is proud of the cooperation between the Attorney General’s Office and our detectives. We are relieved to have removed a criminal from the streets who held himself out as a member of law enforcement, but had actually supplied firearms to drug traffickers and gang members. Our county is unquestionably safer as a result of this investigation and arrest,” said Luzerne County District Attorney Samuel Sanguedolce.
“Snelling, a Pennsylvania Constable, allegedly breached the trust of the public he was elected to protect,” said William S. Walker, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations’ Philadelphia Field Office. “Buying firearms on behalf of convicted felons presents clear dangers to our communities. Law enforcement partnerships, like the multi-agency collaboration brought to bear in this case, are crucial as we work together to identify and apprehend those who straw-purchase firearms for prohibited persons.”
“When firearms are purchased on behalf of those who are prohibited from possessing them, it poses immense danger to the community,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “We will continue to work closely with our local, state, and federal partners to identify straw purchasers and limit the violence that could follow.”
This investigation is ongoing. Under state law, a person who straw purchased two or more firearms is subject to the Brad Fox Mandatory Minimum of 5 to 10 years in state prison.
This case is being prosecuted by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office. All charges are accusations, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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