Former KCFD Captain Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Selling Dozens of Guns
A former Kansas City Fire Department captain was sentenced Monday to six years in federal prison for illegally selling dozens of guns.
James Samuels’ sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release. The 55-year-old man, detained at the Leavenworth Detention Center, appeared in an orange jumpsuit during the hearing conducted by video conference.
Last year, Samuels admitted he purchased 77 firearms from November 2013 to August 2018. He was not a licensed dealer, yet he transferred 47 of the guns to third parties. He made a $40 to $50 profit per firearm, according to prosecutors. TOP ARTICLESWaldo’s new ghost kitchen serving burgers ‘you want to tell other people about’
Ten to 20 of the guns were sold to people forbidden to possess firearms.
Kansas City filed a lawsuit last year that was meant to take aim at the scheme Samuels led, but it went beyond him, alleging responsibility on the part of gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms, several local gun dealers and individuals. The city is again suing to shut down the arms manufacturer after federal officials awarded a firearms license to the renamed JA Industries.
Senior U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner, on Monday, also ordered Samuels to pay a $11,282 fine. Prosecutors said that’s the amount of cash seized by officers at the time of Samuels’ arrest.
“It is very hard to understand how a person like you would allow yourself to engage in this kind of conduct,” Fenner told Samuels. “You obviously had a position to protect and serve the community, and your conduct here did just the opposite.”
Prosecutors had asked Fenner to send Samuels to prison for 7.5 years. In a court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Kavanaugh called for a sentence that would send a message to others to avoid similar wrongdoing.
Samuels’ attorney, John Picerno, asked for a sentence of 3.8 years. Samuels, who had been employed by the fire department since 1998, had no prior criminal history and was not likely to reoffend, he said.
Picerno also noted Samuels would never again be eligible to work in his chosen profession. Since his October 2018 arrest, Samuels has been a model detainee who has attended educational programs, he said.
“He has been shamed by his conduct,” Picerno wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
The judge said he would let the Bureau of Prisons know Samuels preferred to be placed at the prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. His second preference was the federal medical center in Springfield, Missouri, where he thought he could be an asset given his experience as an emergency medical technician, Picerno said.
Kansas City fire Capt. Elliott Eley ll, who has known Samuels for more than 20 years, told the judge he was taken aback when he heard about the accusations. He knew Samuels liked guns, but described him as laid-back. Other firefighters were also in disbelief.
“It sounded so unlike James,” he said.
Samuels was arrested after he sold a revolver to a confidential informant whom he knew had been convicted of a felony, prosecutors said. Police then seized 28 firearms and about 12,000 rounds of ammunition at Samuels’ residence.
In August, Samuels pleaded guilty to seven counts of a 14-count indictment, including four of selling firearms and ammunition to persons prohibited by law from possessing them, according to prosecutors in the Western District of Missouri. Prosecutors say he also conspired with others to make false statements to licensed firearms dealers.
In a statement then, U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison said people prohibited from buying or possessing guns can only get them when someone else breaks the law and puts weapons in their hands.
“These criminals may not pull the trigger, but they profit by making violent crime possible in our neighborhoods,” Garrison said.
In November, the parents of Alvino Dwight Crawford Jr., a Kansas City man who was killed in a 2016 shooting, were awarded $4 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against Samuels, as well as the gun’s dealer and manufacturer. Samuels bought the gun later used to kill Crawford, according to the lawsuit.
Gun violence is the subject of a statewide journalism project The Star is undertaking in Missouri this year in partnership with the national service program Report for America and sponsored in part by Missouri Foundation for Health. As part of this project, The Star will seek the community’s help.
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