An Allentown woman charged with straw purchasing guns used to shoot police officers was sentenced to probation, according to The Morning Call – read the full article here.
Marie Hinds, 42, pleaded guilty to lying to a firearms dealer when purchasing two handguns for her boyfriend two years ago. One of the pistols ended up in the hands of a man suffering from schizophrenia who used it to shoot two NYPD officers before being killed by return-fire. One officer suffered life-threatening injuries while the other was spared by his bullet-proof vest.
The maximum penalty for her crime is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel sympathetically let her off with three years of probation. Stengel justified his mitigating sentence by claiming her absence of a criminal record and lengthy career as a nurse’s aide made this case atypical.
Unfortunately, this kind of soft sentence has become commonplace for straw purchasers since a clean rap sheet is REQUIRED for a person to straw purchase guns from a firearms dealer. If Hinds did not have a clean record she would not have been able to commit the crime she pleaded guilty to. This counterintuitive reasoning is used frequently by judges to avoid harsh sentences for straw purchasers.
Until judges refrain from using a lack of criminal history as justification for soft sentences, straw purchasers will remain undeterred by the potential consequences of their actions.