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February 7, 2014

Lawrence man gets 21 months for buying guns illegally

CONCORD, N.H. — As a convicted felon, Christian Gonzalez was banned from owning firearms.

So, he had a friend buy 11 guns for him.

But the friend’s favor will cost the 35-year-old Lawrence man his freedom. U.S. District Court Judge Landya McCafferty this week sentenced Gonzalez to 21 months in federal prison for aiding and abetting the making of false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms.

Gonzalez, who faced a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, had agreed to plea guilty last fall.

“Gonzalez admitted that he was not able to legally purchase a firearm so he solicited another individual, or ‘straw purchase,’ to purchase firearms for him,” U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas’ office said in a press release yesterday.

“On seven different occasions, Gonzalez drove the ‘straw purchaser’ to a federally licensed firearms dealer in New Hampshire and provided him the money to purchase eleven firearms. Gonzalez took possession of the firearms immediately,” the statement said.

The case against Gonzalez came to light during the summer of 2011 when agents of the Boston office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives learned that Gonzalez’s friend, Carl Conkle, bought 11 guns from Lee’s Gun Shop in Hudson, N.H. Two of the guns were recovered in Lawrence in July of 2011, according to court documents. At the time, Gonzalez lived in the projects of South Lawrence near Lawrence High School.

Conkle later told investigators he was aware that Gonzalez was prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, as he was a convicted felon.

“But that because he considered Gonzalez a friend, he agreed to purchase firearms for him,” the court documents noted.

Gonzalez served 18 months in prison after being convicted on a previous firearm offense. He was also charged with a drug violation and violation of an abuse and protection order.

“The defendant has certainly demonstrated that he has no respect for the law and is more than willing to engage in dangerous criminal activity,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra M. Walsh said in court papers filed in connection with Gonzalez’s sentencing.

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