Hearing set for man accused of alleged sales of firearms

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POTTSTOWN PA – A preliminary hearing on Wednesday (December 23, 2021) is scheduled for 10 a.m. in a Pottstown courtroom for a 28-year-old borough resident charged by Montgomery County Prosecutor Kevin Steele on multiple counts accusation. They relate to guns allegedly bought and resold over a five-year period, which Steele says have been used in crimes committed by others.

Johnny Fowler from Pottstown (at the top) Steele says he made “straw purchases” of 16 guns between 2014 and 2019 and then tampered with them to supply guns to criminals. Fowler faces charges of illegal transfer of firearms, corrupt organizations, trafficking in proceeds of illegal activity, criminal use of communication facilities, unsworn forgery, material misrepresentation and d ‘other offenses.

A “straw buy,” according to Steele, is made when a person with a healthy history buys guns specifically on behalf of another person to conceal their true ownership. People unable to legally purchase a firearm include convicted felons, those convicted of crimes involving domestic violence, minors, and people with mental disorders.

Charges were announced last week following investigations by units of the Federal Department of Justice, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI, the County Detective Bureau, and the Pottstown, West Pottsgrove and elsewhere police. Detectives discovered that Fowler started buying guns in August 2014, shortly after his 21st birthday, Steele said.

Fowler was arrested on December 11 (Saturday) and faced a preliminary indictment before Judicial District Judge Scott T. Palladino. He was then transported to the Montgomery County Jail after being unable to post a $ 500,000 cash bond under judicial review. He will return to Palladino’s courtroom at 1 Security Plaza for the preliminary hearing.

Steele reported that investigations began after Philadelphia Police seized a firearm last August during a traffic stop on a person not legally authorized to possess a firearm due to a felony conviction. earlier. Police tracked down the gun, discovered it had been purchased by Fowler, and referred the matter to county detectives.

They later learned that between August 2014 and April 2019, Fowler had purchased 18 guns from gun stores in three counties, Steele said. Sixteen were considered straw purchases. Of these, three were recovered by police departments during separate investigations in Brooklyn NY, Pleasantville NJ and Philadelphia.

Additionally, Steele added, several guns involved in April 2019 were falsely reported as stolen by Fowler to West Pottsgrove Police, although one was recovered by New York Police almost a year earlier. .

“This defendant was arming criminals, outright,” Steele said of Fowler.

“The recovery by the police of three of the 16 firearms bought in the straw shows how far these illegal weapons can travel and how they appear at crime scenes,” he continued. “Straw buyers like Fowler must be stopped in order to stop the arming of criminals… which makes us all less safe.”

The case will be continued by Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth, captain of the prosecutor’s office firearms unit.

Photo of Fowler provided by the District Attorney’s Office


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