CAMDEN, N.J. – An Atlantic County, New Jersey, man with five prior felony convictions today admitted illegally selling multiple firearms, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Brandon Groce, 36, of Newtonville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to an information charging him with one count of illegally engaging in the business of dealing in firearms and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On six different dates between February 2019 and September 2019, Groce met with an individual at a parking lot in Paulsboro, New Jersey, for the purpose of selling firearms. During each meeting, Groce sold at least one firearm and ammunition for cash. Groce lacked a license to sell firearms. At the time of the sales, Groce had previously been convicted in New Jersey Superior Court of five felonies, including a firearms offense, resisting arrest, and three controlled substances offenses.
The count of being a felon in possession of a firearm carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison. The charge of engaging in the business of dealing firearms, while not being a federally licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer carries a maximum potential penalty of up to five years in prison. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2020.
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 draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Newark Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.