published Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Recordings indicate seller knew gun sales were illegal

One of two men on trial in federal court on charges of illegal gun sales told an undercover federal agent that he could get untraceable "throw down" handguns for the agent to resell in New Jersey.

Prosecutor Terra Bay played multiple recordings of both phone and in-person conversations undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent Brian Musgrove had with Carl Monroe before and during gun buys.

Monroe and his brother Richard Monroe, both of Athens, Tenn., are on trial in a 20-count indictment with charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States, importing/manufacturing firearms and selling firearms to addicts, felons, fugitives.

Musgrove testified Wednesday morning, explaining that he posed as a man from North Carolina who lived in New Jersey and traveled south to buy cheap weapons for resale in New Jersey.

During their first transaction, on Jan. 21, 2011, Musgrove bought an SKS .30-caliber assault rifle for $350 at Carl Monroe's Athens home. During the purchase the pair began working out deals to buy cheap handguns, or what Carl Monroe called "throw down" guns.

In later purchases Musgrove made it clear that he didn't want "any names" on the guns, meaning he wanted either used guns not requiring registration or new guns that had circumvented the registration process that records the name of the purchaser with the serial number and can be tracked.

Carl Monroe told Musgrove he bought guns from pawn shops in Cleveland, Tenn., and Chattanooga. He made plans to have Musgrove call him a few days ahead of his trips so he could buy the guns and have them ready for Musgrove.

Carl Monroe did not possess a Federal Firearms License, which is required for gun dealers.

Agents later seized more than 150 firearms from Carl Monroe's home when the operation concluded.

Due to already scheduled court proceedings and approaching holidays, the trial is scheduled to resume before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Collier on Jan. 7.

Two other men, Kevin Dawson of Ooltewah and Jack Wardlaw of Columbia, Tenn., also were named in the indictment.

The indictment alleges the four men conducted illegal weapons trades and sales for cash from March 2008 until May 23, 2012.

Dawson pleaded guilty Monday to four charges, including possession of a machine gun and conspiracy to sell a firearm without a license. He faces up to five years in prison on his Jan. 10 sentencing date.

Investigators connected Dawson with the sale of firearms to Jesse Mathews, who pleaded guilty to the April 2, 2011, shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin.

Dawson agreed to forfeit 323 firearms as part of his plea.

Also named in the indictment is Jack Wardlaw, Dawson's father-in-law. Wardlaw entered an intent to plead guilty to the single charge against him of conspiracy to sell firearms without a license. Agents allege he invested $15,000 in Dawson's firearm sales. Wardlaw's next court date is Jan. 15.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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