Two South King County men – including one from Kent – were charged this week with multiple firearms offenses for their involvement in the purchase of more than 100 firearms in an apparent “straw purchaser” scheme, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced.
Dion Jamar Cooper, 31, of Kent, and De’ondre Lamontia Phillips, aka Deondre Lamontia McDougle, 32, of Federal Way, were charged by criminal complaint.
Phillips and Cooper were set to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
“The alleged straw purchaser in this case bought more than 100 firearms in less than two years – and two dozen of the firearms have been linked to crimes,” Brown said. “Schemes like this put our community at significant risk. We will use all tools – including new criminal statutes passed by congress – to stop such conduct.”
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation began in late January with the assault and attempted robbery of a woman in Rainier Valley. The victim was able to flee in her car. Police found a firearm in her vehicle that had been dropped by one of the assailants. A check of the firearm revealed it had been purchased by Dion Jamar Cooper on December 10, 2022. That recovery led the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) to check Cooper’s purchase history. Cooper had purchased 107 firearms since June 2021. On 24 different instances he purchased multiple firearms – sometime four or more. Of the 107 firearms identified as being purchased in this scheme, 24 of the guns have been recovered and linked to crimes.
During March and April 2023, agents surveilled Cooper as he made arrangements to purchase additional firearms. Agents identified De’ondre Lamontia Phillips as the person who drove Cooper to the gun shops where he purchased the firearms. Phillips is prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms due to convictions for distribution of heroin (2014) and convictions for illegal firearms possession and two counts of assault (2009). Surveillance of the two revealed Cooper turning the firearms over to Phillips who stored them in his residence.
Cooper and Phillips are charged with Straw Purchasing of Firearms, involving ten different guns. Both men are also charged with two counts of trafficking in firearms. Phillips is charged with possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Phillips is also charged with unlawful possession of firearms.
Straw Purchasing of Firearms and Trafficking in Firearms are both punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Possession of controlled substances in this case is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years and up to 40 years in prison. Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a mandatory minimum five years in prison to run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges. Unlawful possession of firearms is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Seattle Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Todd Greenberg.