- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for paying people to buy guns in Pennsylvania that were smuggled to New York City and sold on the street.

Michael Bassier, 32, already is serving more than 17 years in a New York prison on related charges, and the term imposed by U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab in Pittsburgh on Tuesday will run concurrently, meaning he won’t spend any additional time in prison as a result of the federal term.

Still, federal prosecutors contend it was important to prosecute Bassier and seven underlings, all of whom also have pleaded guilty.

“The defendant’s conduct was essentially one stem removed from street violence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Conor Lamb told Schwab, noting that Bassier has exhibited “a complete lack of remorse.”

Bassier is just one of an untold number of gun runners responsible for bringing about 90 percent of the weapons seized in connection with New York City crimes through what’s known to law enforcement as the “Iron Pipeline.” In general, that refers to guns smuggled into New York from Virginia, Georgia, Florida and other states linked by Interstate 95, along the nation’s Eastern seaboard.

Brooklyn prosecutors contend Bassier smuggled more than 100 weapons from Atlanta and Pittsburgh into New York City on cheap interstate passenger buses or passenger cars.

They intercepted some of his cellphone calls to prove he knew what he was doing was illegal, including one to an ex-girlfriend while he strolled the streets of Manhattan with a duffel bag stuffed with illegal weapons.

“I’ve got MAC-10s on me, an SK assault rifle and four handguns and I’m walking through New York,” Bassier said in the March call to his ex-girlfriend. “When I’m out of state, like Atlanta and Georgia and all that, it’s all legal … but in New York, it’s completely illegal.”

Lamb contends Bassier assisted in buying 44 guns between December 2014 and August 2015 in Pennsylvania. Because Bassier is a convicted felon, he can’t legally buy guns. That’s why he used straw purchasers to buy the guns, which were then smuggled to New York.

Many of the guns were bought for about $150 to $300 and were resold for $800 to $1,200 and sometimes for as much as $2,500, authorities said.

An undercover New York Police Department officer was credited with gaining Bassier’s trust and breaking up the ring by becoming Bassier’s exclusive customer. The officer wound up buying 112 guns in various deals conducted in a drug store parking lot in Brooklyn.

Bassier’s defense attorney, R. Damien Schorr declined comment after the sentencing.


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