ALBANY, NEW YORK – Christopher Montano, age 36, of Edinburg, New York, pled guilty today to unlawfully conspiring to deal, possess, transfer and make unregistered firearms, and to distributing methamphetamine.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon; John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In pleading guilty, Montano admitted that between August and October 2019, he, along with Michael Castelluccio, conspired to build and sell firearms from component parts ordered online. These firearms are commonly known as “ghost guns” because they do not have serial numbers, which makes them difficult for law enforcement to trace.
Montano admitted to conspiring to possess and transfer short-barreled rifles, which are rifles with barrels less than 16 inches long, and admitted to doing so without having filed an application with or received approval from the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, or paying the tax required by federal law. He also admitted to selling more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.
Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby scheduled sentencing for June 3, 2021.
Montano faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life, a fine of up to $10 million, and a term of supervised release of up to life. Montano also agreed to forfeit the proceeds he received from the sale of the methamphetamine.
Castelluccio pled guilty on November 5, 2020 to unlawfully transferring an unregistered short-barreled rifle that had machinegun capability, and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1, 2021. Castelluccio faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. Castelluccio also agreed to forfeit a pickup truck that he used to transport the firearms.
A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
This case was investigated by the ATF and HSI, as well as the Schenectady County and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Offices. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Wentworth-Ping.
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/ag/project-guardian-memo-2019/download