A Kent man pleaded guilty last week in U.S. District Court in Seattle to multiple firearms offenses for his purchase of more than 100 firearms in a “straw purchaser” scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.

Dion Jamar Cooper, 31, of Kent was arrested in April 2023, following an investigation by Seattle Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez scheduled sentencing for May 17, 2024.

“Mr. Cooper lied on purchase forms and then trafficked more than 100 firearms on the streets of our community. He trafficked to those who are prohibited from possessing guns, because of their criminal history. It is not surprising that more than two dozen of the firearms have been linked to crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Gorman. “Congress has responded to the epidemic of gun violence with new laws targeting such “straw purchasing” and we are using them in this case.”

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation began in late January 2023, 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 – sometimes four or more. Of the 107 firearms identified as being purchased in this scheme, 26 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 pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of firearms, one count of straw purchasing firearms and one count of trafficking in firearms.  Phillips pleaded guilty last month to drug and gun possession crimes. He is scheduled for sentencing April 26, 2024.

Straw Purchasing of Firearms and Trafficking in Firearms are both punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Making a false statement in connection with a firearms acquisition is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

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.

Scott Schaefer

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