The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Eric LaFrance, 34, of Westfield, Massachusetts, was arrested yesterday for unlawful possession of a firearm during an ATF undercover operation in Brattleboro, Vermont. LaFrance appeared before the Honorable John M. Conroy, United States Magistrate Judge, this afternoon, and was ordered detained pending a detention hearing.
According to court records, LaFrance attempted to arrange to purchase a firearm from a Vermont Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) despite being a resident of Massachusetts. LaFrance’s repeated efforts concerned the FFL, who reported the incident to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). ATF investigated LaFrance’s criminal record, and determined LaFrance had an arrest history in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and North Dakota that dates back to 2003. A review of court records revealed that LaFrance had sustained a 2016 conviction for Larceny Over $250, which prohibited LaFrance from lawfully possessing firearms.
An ATF Special Agent working in an undercover capacity contacted LaFrance and offered to sell him a firearm. LaFrance expressed interest in purchasing all three firearms and ammunition that the agent had listed as being for sale. LaFrance stated to the undercover agent that although he possessed a .22 caliber pistol, he needed to upgrade his firearm after a recent violent confrontation. LaFrance eventually agreed to trade an older revolver, marijuana, and U.S. Currency for a GLOCK Model 22 .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol and ammunition. On June 22, 2020, in Brattleboro, Vermont, LaFrance met with the undercover agent, and provided the undercover agent $340, an amount of marijuana, and an Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works .38 caliber revolver. The undercover agent then provided the GLOCK to LaFrance, who was arrested moments later.
If convicted, LaFrance faces a maximum of ten years of imprisonment. The actual sentence however, would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the complaint are merely accusations, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan commended the investigative efforts of ATF.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt. Defendant LaFrance is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting firearm use and possession crimes; prioritizes prosecuting persons who make false statements when attempting to obtain firearms; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concerning persons who attempt to obtain firearms illegally; coordinates responses to persons prevented from obtaining firearms for mental health reasons; and ensures the use of modern intelligence tools and technology to focus on the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.