Guilty pleas in ‘guns to gangs’ conspiracy

Four of the five people indicted in U.S. District Court earlier this year in an alleged gun straw purchasing conspiracy have pleaded guilty.  Last week, Keniko Bland, 20, pleaded guilty to illegally receiving a firearm. And earlier this month, Diontre Hill, 21, and Raheem Watkins, 21, both pleaded guilty to charges of being felons in possession of firearms.  Prosecutors say the men are gang members with criminal records which prohibit them from legally possessing guns.

Two women, 32-year-old Angela Carter and 29-year-old Jacquelyn Burnes, allegedly acted as "straw buyers" when they bought the guns for the three men. According to the indictments, Carter and Burnes lied when they filled out forms at gun stores because they claimed they were buying the guns for themselves.

Burnes pleaded guilty to one count of "false statement during purchase of a firearm." Carter is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing later this week.   The maximum federal penalty for providing a gun to a felon is 10 years in prison.  Sentencing dates have not yet been set.

MPR News is Member Supported

What does that mean? The news, analysis and community conversation found here is funded by donations from individuals. Make a gift of any amount today to support this resource for everyone.