- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2004

Three Virginia men, two of them licensed gun dealers, were arrested yesterday on charges of illegal firearms trafficking, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty.

James E. Rice III, 41, of Manassas, Philip J. Bailey, 32, of Cross Junction and Charles S. Hyink, 47, of Falls Church, were named on separate criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Mr. Rice, a federally licensed firearms dealer and part owner of J.E. Rice True Value Hardware in Manassas, was charged with selling two firearms to a known felon.

Mr. Bailey, owner of Manassas Gold & Pawn, a federally licensed firearms dealership, was charged with transferring a firearm to a person he knew intended to use it to commit a drug-trafficking crime.

Mr. Hyink, a clerk in the Cash Store Pawn Shop Inc., which is federally licensed to sell firearms, was charged with knowingly transferring a firearm to a person he knew intended to use it in a drug deal.

“Every felon with a gun is a potential gun-trafficking case. These arrests should serve as a wake-up call to all firearms dealers that gun trafficking will not be tolerated,” Mr. McNulty said.

Federal authorities, who served search warrants at each of the three businesses, said the men had been under investigation for the past year in a scheme known as “straw purchasing,” in which the actual buyer of a firearm has another person fill out the federally required forms to complete the sale.

Authorities at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police and the Fairfax County Police Department, who investigated the case, said straw purchases are typically done by persons prohibited from purchasing a firearm, such as a felon, or by those who plan to use a firearm in a crime.

The three men are being prosecuted as part of the Justice Department’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” — a nationwide gun violence reduction initiative. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Stokes and Erik Barnett and by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Stawasz.

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