Criminal Justice News

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Minnesota Man Indicted for Dealing Firearms without a License



At Least Three Guns Sold by Feldman Were Recovered From or Connected to Twin Cities Crime Scenes

U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota today announced a federal indictment charging Eitan Benjamin Feldman, 28, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, for illegally dealing in firearms without a license and lying on at least nine firearms transaction records.  The defendant is expected to appear later today before Magistrate Judge Mayeron in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“There is far too much gun violence in the Twin Cities,” said U.S. Attorney Luger.  “Violent crimes involving guns are often committed by people who cannot legally obtain a firearm, but they find a way.  According to today’s indictment, Feldman was one of those ways.  This defendant engaged in the business of dealing guns without a license.  He didn’t conduct background checks on the people to whom he sold the guns and at least three of the guns were connected to Twin Cities crime scenes.  Thanks to the dedicated special agents of the ATF, Feldman today is in custody and there is one less backdoor through which potential criminals can get a gun.”

“Today’s arrest should send a message to unlicensed firearm dealers who put the public at risk each time they sell a firearm to a potential criminal,” said Special Agent in Charge James Modzelewski of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) St. Paul Field Division.  “They are recklessly circumventing the criminal background check system and it is a crime.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between January 2014 and January 2016, Feldman engaged in a regular pattern and practice of unlawfully dealing in firearms without a license by repeatedly purchasing firearms and offering them for resale within days of getting them.  Feldman routinely purchased firearms offered by out-of-state Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) through websites such as gunbroker.com, an online firearms auction site.  Feldman arranged to have the firearms transferred to L.E. Gun Sales, a FFL in Minnesota, where he received and took possession of the guns after completing and signing the appropriate documentation and submitting to a National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) check.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, during the same time period, Feldman regularly listed and offered the same firearms for sale – often at a higher price than what he paid – on armslist.com, a website that allows individuals to list firearms for sale.  Of the 41 guns Feldman purchased and re-sold during this time, the average time he actually possessed a gun before offering it for resale was only nine days.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Feldman would sometimes include on his for-sale listings on armslist.com a false story indicating that he had actually owned a particular firearm for much longer than he had or concoct a reason why he was then selling the gun.  For example, on one listing for a 20-guage pump-action shotgun that Feldman had possessed for only two days before listing on armslist.com, Feldman wrote that he, “is a gun collector, has had the shotgun for two years, never shot it.”  On another listing for a .38 caliber handgun that he had possessed for only seven days before listing for resale, Feldman wrote, “bought a couple of years ago but only taken to the range a few times.”  In yet another listing for a semiautomatic 9mm carbine rifle that he had possessed for only six days, Feldman claimed that the rifle had been “sitting in [his] closet for a few months” and that he had not fired it for about four months.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, in July 2015, an ATF Special Agent told Feldman that some of the firearms he had received at L.E. Gun Sales and subsequently sold, had been linked to crime scenes within days of Feldman taking possession of and selling the guns.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on April 26, 2015, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) recovered a loaded Ruger .380 pistol when responding to a gun-pointing assault.  The weapon was submitted for National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) analysis, which showed that the weapon had also been used on March 19, 2015, in a shots-fired incident from which MPD recovered two spent shell casings.  Feldman had purchased this same weapon on March 12, 2015, only seven days before the shots-fired incident and 45 days before it was recovered from the gun-pointing crime scene.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on May 28, 2015, MPD responded to a narcotics call, during which they recovered a Bersa Thunder .380.  This same gun had been purchased by Feldman 18 days earlier on May 10, 2015.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on Aug. 25, 2015, Bloomington Police (BPD) identified and stopped several vehicles involved in the transport of at least 50 pounds of marijuana from California to Minnesota.  In one of the vehicles, BPD officers recovered a backpack containing two loaded handguns, one of which was a Taurus .38-caliber revolver.  One of the suspects admitted that both guns belonged to him and that he had bought the Taurus revolver from a private seller in Minneapolis.  That same gun was purchased only three months earlier by Feldman on May 10, 2015.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on July 17, 2015, ATF Special Agents executed a search warrant at Feldman’s home in Saint Paul and seized five shotguns.  Feldman had completed the transfer of each shotgun at L.E. Gun Sales and had listed and offered each shotgun for resale on armslist.com between two and 25 days of receiving them at L.E. Gun Sales.  ATF Special Agents also recovered three firearm bills of sale, showing that Feldman had sold four firearms to three different individuals.  Feldman had received the four firearms at L.E. Gun Sales between three and 24 days before reselling them.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, during at least nine transactions at L.E. Gun Sales in which Feldman received the four firearms seized during the search and 23 other firearms that he offered for resale, he falsely represented his residential address on the Form 4473.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on Oct. 2, 2015, ATF Special Agents served Feldman with a written Warning Notice of Unlicensed Firearms Dealing in Violation of Federal Law, warning him that his continuous and repetitive firearm-related activity appears to make him an unlicensed “dealer in firearms” and that he should stop immediately or risk criminal prosecution.  Despite the warning, Feldman continued his unlawful dealing in firearms on at least eight more occasions.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on Dec. 3, 2015, ATF Special Agents made an undercover purchase of a .38-caliber revolver from Feldman, a gun that he had received 10 days prior.  The undercover officer paid Feldman $260 in the parking lot of a local shopping mall.  Feldman never sought to verify the identity of the purchaser, nor did he make any effort to determine if the buyer was prohibited by law from purchasing a firearm.  Feldman conducted no background check.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, on Jan. 21, 2016, ATF Special Agents made an undercover purchase of a Hi-Point 9mm semiautomatic carbine rifle from Feldman, a gun that he had received seven days prior.  The undercover officer paid Feldman $250 in the parking lot of a local shopping mall.  Feldman never sought to verify the identity of the purchaser, nor did he make any effort to determine if the buyer was prohibited by law from purchasing a firearm.  Again, Feldman conducted no background check.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Minneapolis Police Department, Saint Paul Police Department and Bloomington Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bejar for the District of Minnesota is prosecuting the case.

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