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Posted: 9/22/2002 3:43:20 PM EDT
A Baton Rouge gun dealer received four years in federal prison Friday after admitting to selling felons weapons for what a judge called "blood money." At least 125 guns sold by Andre Ferguson, ex-owner of Andre's Arms, formerly at 1987 Dallas Drive, have turned up at crime scenes from January 1999 through Friday, said Jerry Dennis, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent in Baton Rouge. "All the guns haven't surfaced yet," Dennis said. "And we've still got some things under investigation." Ferguson pleaded guilty in April to five counts of knowingly selling firearms to prohibited persons. He admitted to selling five guns to the wife of a man convicted of aggravated battery in Baton Rouge. Because Ferguson is now a felon, he can no longer legally sell or possess firearms or weapons. Dennis described Ferguson as "a major source" of illegal guns in Baton Rouge. The guns Ferguson sold have been found at crime scenes outside Louisiana, including in Texas, Michigan and California. "The word was out on the street," Dennis said. "If you needed an illegal gun, his was the place to go." Ferguson's attorney, Mark Simmons, said his client hasn't directly hurt anyone. "I don't think there's anything to show he's a big, bad criminal," Simmons said. While investigating Ferguson, ATF agents traced weapons found at six murders, 21 drug cases and at least one kidnapping as being sold by Ferguson, Dennis said. U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola chided Ferguson for profiting by putting other people in danger. "It was blood money," Polozola said. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." Ferguson declined to comment during and after the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court. He must report to a yet-to-be designated federal prison by Oct. 21. Gary Orchowski, an ATF agent who traces firearms found at crime scenes, said Ferguson appeared to be trying to hide his gun deals with felons. Investigators found 148 sale slips filled out by people with clean records Orchowski said. Ferguson would fill in the serial numbers on the form after selling the guns to felons or someone representing them, Orchowski said.. The forms are used for background checks and later to trace weapons found at crime scenes, Orchowski said. "To me, this is an obvious attempt to conceal the identity of the purchaser," Orchowski said. Ferguson is also heard on tapes made by the FBI during the investigation of the Hillside G's, a loose-knit gang and drug-dealing organization operating in the Valley Park neighborhood, said FBI Special Agent Jeff Methvin. In four taped conversations played in court Friday, Ferguson can be heard speaking with another man, identified by Methvin as a drug supplier for the Hillside G's, discussing getting false identification and weapons for people, Methvin said. In one conversation, taped on June 23, 2000, Ferguson and the supplier spoke of a "trigger man" looking at weapons at Andre's Arms, Methvin said. Simmons, Ferguson's attorney, said his client didn't and couldn't have known what the guns he sold were being used for. Assistant U.S. Attorney Walt Green said Ferguson was facilitating crimes committed by others. "He's at least turning a blind eye," Green said. Polozola agreed, saying Ferguson must have known who his customers were. "The court believes that the customers who were buying guns ... were drug traffickers, murderers, armed robbers and others," Polozola said.
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