Defendant Pleads Responsible of Illegal Possession of “Hit Kits”

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JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A resident of New Paris pleaded responsible in federal court docket to a one-count Info charging conspiracy to deal and manufacture firearms with no license, U.S. Lawyer Eric G. Olshan introduced right now. His plea follows earlier responsible pleas from his two co-defendants within the case to costs of possession, manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, amongst different offenses.

Wayne Farabaugh, 55, pleaded responsible earlier than U.S. District Decide Stephanie L. Haines. In December and October of 2023, respectively, co-defendants Craig Zahradnik, 52, of Altoona, and Harry Miller, 47, of Martinsburg, every pleaded responsible to seven counts earlier than Decide Haines. Zahradnik’s sentencing scheduled for April 10 and Miller’s for March 11.

In reference to their responsible pleas, Farabaugh, Zahradnik and Miller admitted that, between Could 2022 and April 2023, they had been a part of a conspiracy to interact within the enterprise of producing and dealing in firearms with no license. Particularly, Miller and Zahradnik had been companions in a bootleg enterprise operation engaged within the manufacturing and trafficking of privately made firearms—so-called ghost weapons—with Miller buying the elements and sustaining lots of the weapons at a storage unit that Zahradnik, a retired police detective, managed. Starting in July of 2022, Zahradnik offered $5,000 funds to Miller that Miller then deposited into his checking account, totaling $30,000. Miller used these funds to buy the firearm elements from outdoors Pennsylvania and repaid Zahradnik with the proceeds from the gun gross sales, together with from the sale of what Miller marketed as “hit kits,” consisting of a 9-millimeter Polymer80 handgun with no serial quantity, a threaded barrel with an connected silencer, subsonic ammunition and latex gloves.

Farabaugh admitted that he assisted Miller and permitted him to make use of equipment at Farabaugh’s place of employment to drill the elements for ghost weapons.

Miller additionally used this gear to fabricate untraceable weapons and weapon elements that had been required to be registered with the federal government beneath the Nationwide Firearms Act, together with silencers, machineguns, and short-barrel rifles. Zahradnik transported the “hit kits” and different firearms to and from Miller for scheduled buys. On different events, Miller and Zahradnik transported firearms collectively.

Zahradnik additional admitted that, in March 2023, he transferred a firearm and ammunition to Miller, understanding that Miller meant to promote, get rid of or switch the firearm and ammunition in furtherance of a felony, and unlawfully transferred firearms that weren’t registered to him. As a part of their responsible pleas, Zahradnik and Farabaugh each admitted that they knew Miller was a convicted felon and was subsequently prohibited from possessing firearms.

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Throughout their plea hearings, Zahradnik and Miller additional pleaded responsible to illegal possession of a machinegun, unlawful trafficking in firearms and unlawfully participating within the enterprise of producing and dealing in firearms.

“This case illustrates the extraordinary hazard related to the illegal manufacturing and trafficking of ghost weapons,” U.S. Lawyer Olshan stated. “These defendants admitted promoting so-called ‘hit kits’ to anybody on the lookout for an untraceable firearm packaged along with a silencer and even latex gloves. The potential for deadly penalties is staggering. As all the time, we are going to proceed to work aspect by aspect with our companions in federal, state and native regulation enforcement to make sure that those that put revenue over public security are held accountable.”

“The illegal sale of firearms is a major focus of ATF,” stated Eric DeGree, Particular Agent in Cost of ATF’s Philadelphia Area Division. “On this case, self-styled ‘hit kits’ pose a essential risk to the protection of our residents. The results of this investigation is a testomony to the longstanding collaboration with our native, state and federal companions, together with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Lawyer Common’s Workplace, the Altoona Police Division and the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace. I want to thank the devoted work of the investigators and prosecutors for dismantling this unlawful firearm distribution operation.”

Farabaugh is scheduled to be sentenced Could 15 with the regulation offering for a most sentence of 5 years. Zahradnik and Miller every face a most whole sentence of 70 years in jail, a complete fantastic of $1.27 million or each. Below the federal Sentencing Pointers, the precise sentence imposed is predicated upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior legal historical past, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Lawyer Maureen Sheehan-Balchon is prosecuting the case on behalf of the federal government.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives carried out the investigation that led to the prosecutions. This case was prosecuted beneath the brand new legal provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congress enacted and the President signed in June 2022. The Act is the primary federal statute particularly designed to focus on the illegal trafficking and straw-purchasing of firearms.

This case is a part of Challenge Secure Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing collectively all ranges of regulation enforcement and the communities they serve to scale back violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everybody. On Could 26, 2021, the Division of Justice launched a violent crime discount technique strengthening PSN based mostly on these core rules: fostering belief and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that assist stop violence from occurring within the first place, setting targeted and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the outcomes.


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

ATF is the federal regulation enforcement company accountable for investigating violations of the federal firearms and explosives legal guidelines and rules. Extra details about ATF and its applications might be discovered at www.atf.gov.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ( ATF )

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Defendant Pleads Guilty of Unlawful Possession of “Hit Kits” is written by F Riehl, Editor in Chief for www.ammoland.com

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