ERIE, Pa. – A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on charges of violating federal laws relating to unlawfully exporting firearm ammunition magazines, smuggling goods from the United States, and possessing unregistered firearms, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
The three-count Superseding Indictment named Donald Robert Witherow, 47, 6661 Buffalo Road, Erie, Pennsylvania, as the sole defendant.
According to the Superseding Indictment presented to the court, in September 2019, Witherow, without first obtaining the required approval, sent ammunition and ammunition magazines to the Netherlands. In addition, on March 26, 2020, Witherow possessed unregistered firearms, namely destructive devices.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $1,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted the investigation leading to the superseding indictment in this case. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is also 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 www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
A superseding indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.