Couple face charges for gun purchasing scheme

An Oil City woman and a man from Ohio are facing firearms charges after the woman purchased seven firearms and the man took possession of them.

Julie Sylvester, 42, is accused of buying the firearms at the direction of her then boyfriend, Walter Mann, 52, who is ineligible to possess a firearm, Erie state police with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Task Force said in a criminal complaint.

Two of the firearms were recovered by law enforcement investigating unrelated crimes, one in Detroit, Michigan, and one in Akron, Ohio, the complaint said. Sylvester never reported the firearms as stolen, according to the complaint.

The time between Sylvester buying one of the guns and the firearm being recovered at the crime scene in Akron was 95 days, the complaint said. And the time between when she bought the pistol that was recovered by police in Detroit was 142 days, the complaint said.

Sylvester told police that after she met Mann online, he came to live with her in Oil City and he mentioned having guns in the house for protection, the complaint said. Mann told her he was prohibited from buying guns himself, according to the complaint.

Sylvester said that each time she purchased a gun, Mann went with her to the gun store, told her which gun she should buy and then gave her the money to make the purchase, the complaint said. She made purchases from several gun stores in the region, the complaint notes.

Mann would then take possession of each gun and keep it under the mattress on his side of the bed, the complaint said.

Then, he would leave the house with each of the guns and sell or trade them for drugs without her consent or knowledge, the complaint said. After this he would convince her to purchase more guns, continuing the cycle, according to the complaint.

Mann was charged with seven felony counts each of possession of firearm prohibited, firearms not to be carried without a license, conspiracy- firearm ownership-duty of other persons, and conspiracy — penalties — sales to ineligible transferee, as well as seven counts of conspiracy — makes any materially false oral statement.

Sylvester was charged with felony counts of firearm ownership- duty of other persons and materially false written statement- purchase, delivery, transfer of firearm, as well as a misdemeanor count of makes any materially false oral statement.


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