HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Bridgeport trucker pleaded guilty Tuesday to the theft of more than 100 firearms that prosecutors say are turning up in criminal investigations as distant as North Carolina.
Elliot Perez, 28, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hartford.
Perez picked up boxes of firearms from the Smith & Wesson manufacturing plant in Springfield, Mass., on Nov. 8, 2012, and stole other boxes for a total of 111 firearms, authorities say. He drove the truck with the firearms to his house in Bridgeport where he met an associate, Michael Murphy, 25, and the two men stored and sold many of the guns, authorities say.
Perez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and sell stolen firearms and other charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced May 7.
Murphy previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and sell stolen firearms and other charges. He faces up to 15 years when sentenced on April 21.
Two convicted felons also are being prosecuted in the case; they allegedly stole Smith & Wesson firearms taken during the theft, U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said.
“There is nothing more important to our mission than keeping illegal guns off the streets,” she said.
Perez also was accused of falsely telling agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that another man at Smith & Wesson’s manufacturing plant told him which boxes he was to load onto his truck and that he delivered the firearms to a distribution center in Stratford.
Authorities say Perez was previously convicted of larceny and burglary and Murphy has a felony burglary conviction. Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm or ammunition that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.