Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge for Dealing Firearms Without a License

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Greenbelt, Maryland – Steven Darnell Richers, age 25, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms and ammunition without a license.  

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry.

According to his guilty plea, from at least January through March of 2019, Richers conspired with another federal defendant, Christopher Heard, to sell firearms and ammunition.  For example, on January 22, 2019, Richers exchanged text messages with Heard about firearms trafficking activity and meeting for a transaction.  In their conversation, Heard told Richers that he would bring Richers, who was living in Virginia at the time, “endless clients.”  Heard also told Richers that Heard was coming from Maryland to meet with Richers in Virginia.

In furtherance of the conspiracy, on or about January 25, 2019, Heard sold an unloaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol and fourteen rounds of 9mm ammunition to a Confidential Source 1 (“CS 1”) in Maryland for $700.  On January 26, 2019, Richers sent a text message to Heard that stated in part “I knew you were finna sell that hk lol.”

On February 5, 2019, CS 1 introduced Heard to another individual (“CS 2”). During that meeting in Maryland, Heard informed CS 2 that he could get CS 2 a firearm and displayed to CS 2 a .22 long rifle caliber firearm. Later that day, CS 2 had a phone call with Heard.  During the call, Heard stated that he could get whatever firearms CS2 needed and that he had someone in Virginia who could get whatever firearm he wanted, including a brand new AR short barrel.  Heard stated, “That’s where I get all my joints from Virginia…everything clean and fresh out the box.”

On March 25, 2019, Richers exchanged text messages with Heard about firearms trafficking activity.  Richers sent an image of an AR-type rifle that Richers had in his residence at the time.  Heard asked, “how much,” and Richers said that the price was $560.

On October 9, 2019, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Richers’s residence and seized, among other things: approximately 1,727 rounds of assorted ammunition; a 12 Gauge shotgun; a 40-caliber pistol; and .380v caliber pistol.  The seized firearms and ammunition were involved in or used in Richers’s business of dealing in firearms without a license.

Richers faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to engage in the sale of firearms and ammunition without a license.   U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for August 8, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

Christopher Maurice Heard, age 32, of Waldorf, Maryland previously pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 28, 2022.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  PSN, an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime, is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation and thanked the Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight J. Draughon, who is prosecuting the case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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