The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Ferdinand Cruz, aka “Feldi,” 39, and Bridgette Lawlor, 33, both of Bellows Falls, Vermont, were arrested last week. The federal grand jury has accused Lawlor of unlawfully purchasing a Ruger .380 pistol for Cruz, whom she knew to be prohibited from possessing firearms. Cruz was accused of unlawfully possessing two handguns, including the Ruger. Cruz was arrested on July 22, 2020. At a detention hearing on Friday, The Honorable John M. Conroy, United States Magistrate Judge, ordered that Cruz be detained pending trial. Lawlor appeared before Magistrate Judge Conroy on July 23, 2020, and was released on conditions.
According to court records, Cruz’s possession of firearms was uncovered during an investigation by the Dover, Vermont Police Department of Cruz’s alleged sexual abuse of a child. Dover officers encountered Cruz with the Ruger .380 pistol, prior to learning he was a prohibited person. After Cruz’s arrest for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, Cruz gave permission for officers to recover the Ruger .380 pistol from his residence. While doing so, officers discovered a Taurus 9mm pistol stored with the Ruger. Records associated with the purchase of the Ruger .380 pistol revealed it had been purchased by Lawlor. During an interview, Lawlor admitted she purchased the firearm for Cruz despite knowing he was a felon.
If convicted, Cruz and Lawlor face 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 defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan commended the investigative efforts of the Dover Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ophardt. Defendant Cruz is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender. Defendant Lawlor is represented by Ian Carleton, Esq. of Sheehey, Furlong, & Behm, P.C.
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.