Man sentenced to 41 months for trafficking at least 320 firearms | USAO-SDIN

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today, William Beard, 58, Columbus, Ind., was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for Unlicensed Firearms Dealing and Falsification of Records in Bankruptcy.

“Beard’s illegal activities introduced hundreds of firearms into the underground gun economy,” said Minkler. “At least twenty three of those guns were recovered from crime scenes in Indianapolis neighborhoods. This office will continue to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who illegally put guns on the streets of our district. Mr. Beard found that out today”

Starting in early 2013 and continuing through October 2017, Beard engaged in systematic unlicensed firearms dealing that resulted in the illegal sale or transfer of over 320 guns. Beard profited significantly from those illegal sales. 

 On numerous occasions, Beard engaged in “multiple sale” transactions in which he bought multiple firearms on the same day or within several days of one another. Through his pattern of unlicensed firearms dealing, Beard sold, traded, or otherwise disposed of all but a handful of the 320-plus firearms that he purchased between 2013 and 2017. He would sell the guns at various locations, including numerous gun and/or trade shows throughout Indiana. In not one instance did Beard conduct a background check or complete the required ATF paperwork that is required if he were a legally operating Federal Firearms Licensee.

 Approximately 23 firearms that Beard purchased and or sold have been recovered from crime scenes. The circumstances of the firearm recoveries ranged from armed robberies to drug search warrants.

On June 18, 2018, Beard filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in the Southern District of Indiana. He failed to disclose income made from selling and trading firearms. He also did not disclose the facts that he had been criminally indicted, thus willfully obstructing the administration of justice, namely, the proper administration of a bankruptcy proceeding.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

“Selling firearms illegally is just as much a crime as using them illegally,” stated Roland Herndon, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “William Beard bought hundreds of firearms, and then sold them without a license. Several of those firearms later showed up in crimes. By diverting firearms from legal to illegal commerce, by helping certain individuals avoid records and background checks, Beard is responsible for fueling violence in our community. Now he will not be able to purchase firearms, and his role in feeding the violence is at an end.”

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Kendra Klump and Amanda Kester, who prosecuted this case for the government, Beard must also serve 2 years of supervised release following his sentence.

In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution sentencing demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to target, investigate, and prosecute defendants committing violent crimes involving firearms trafficking, robbery, and carjacking. (See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Section 2.3)

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