PEORIA, Ill. – An Alabama woman, April Alexandra Soriano, 31, formerly of the 1800 block of East Bertman Avenue, in Springfield, Illinois, pleaded guilty on October 6, 2021, to making false statements during the purchase of multiple firearms during November 2018 and April 2020. Sentencing has been scheduled for January 27, 2022.
In federal court yesterday, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Hawley, Soriano admitted to lying on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives forms when she indicated she was purchasing the guns for herself when, in fact, she was buying them for someone else.
During the change-of-plea hearing, the government stated that during an investigation of a shooting in Chicago, an ATF gun trace revealed that Soriano purchased five firearms from May 1, 2019, to April 15, 2020. A 9mm Taurus handgun she purchased in East Peoria on November 10, 2018, was recovered 64 days later by law enforcement during a search of the residence where she lived with her then-boyfriend in Peoria. A second gun, a 9mm Ruger handgun she purchased at Scheels All Sports in Springfield on April 14, 2020, was recovered 46 days later in Chicago following a shooting incident where a victim sustained a gunshot wound to the foot.
The government further stated that in filling out ATF forms to purchase both the (1) Taurus, Model G2C 9mm caliber pistol from Midwestern Firearms on November 10, 2018, and (2) the Ruger, Model EC9S 9mm caliber pistol from Scheels All Sports on April 14, 2020, Soriano certified that she was the actual buyer and was not acquiring the firearm on behalf of another person.
During the course of the plea proceedings and previously during an interview with law enforcement, Soriano admitted that she provided false information on the forms and had, in fact, purchased both guns for the then-boyfriend. Soriano further admitted that she purchased Taurus pistol for her boyfriend when they lived together on East Nebraska Street in Peoria and said that it was used for protection because drug deals were taking place out of the residence. In relation to the Ruger pistol later recovered in Chicago, Soriano acknowledged that her boyfriend accompanied her to the gun store in Springfield and made the final decision on which gun to purchase.
“This guilty plea highlights the danger of straw purchases of firearms and the relationship between drugs and violence in our community,” said Acting U.S Attorney Douglas J. Quivey. “It is simply not okay to purchase a firearm with the intent to give it to someone who cannot legally possess it.”
“The continuing unacceptable level of violence in the Peoria area has multiple causes,” Quivey added. “There is no question that the illegal transfer and possession of firearms are contributing factors. The USAO and our law enforcement partners will do all we can to continue to address the firearm issue but we need the community to help. If you see something, please say something.”
“When people straw purchase firearms on behalf of those who are prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms themselves, they often end up in the hands of those who commit violent crime,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kristen de Tineo of the Chicago Field Division. “ATF appreciates the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in prosecuting those responsible for trafficking firearms.”
Agencies participating in the investigation include ATF, the Peoria Police Department, and the Chicago Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Hanna is representing the government in the prosecution.
For the offense of false statements to a licensed firearms dealer in connection with the purchase of a firearm, the statutory penalty is up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release following imprisonment.
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