Two men are facing federal charges for allegedly conspiring to straw purchase over a dozen handguns in Wisconsin and resell them in Chicago.
Kirk Valentine, of Wisconsin, allegedly bought 19 handguns from retail stores, pawn shops and gun shows and illegally gave them to Chicago resident Francisco Rocha, who resold them in the city, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern Illinois District.
Both are charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, prosecutors said. Rocha, who goes by “Mookie” and “Ese,” is also charged with unlawful dealing and importing firearms, according to the federal indictment.
Rocha, 28, allegedly recruited 23-year-old Valentine, who paid premium over-the-list prices for the handguns in the first six months of 2018 throughout Wisconsin, prosecutors said. Rocha allegedly told him which guns to buy.
In March, Valentine bought three handguns from a Gander Outdoors and two handguns from a dealer at Boob and Rocco’s Gun Show in Onalaska, Wisconsin, prosecutors said.
In April and May, Valentine bought a handgun at Big Rooster Firearms in Sparta, two guns from the Holmen Pawn Shop and nine more guns from Bob and Rocco’s Gun show, prosecutors said. Rocha even accompanied Valentine to an Ace Hardware in La Crosse, where Rocha allegedly directed Valentine to buy two handguns for him, prosecutors said.
Valentine allegedly signed ATF paperwork, falsely claiming the guns were for him, according to prosecutors.
Rocha allegedly traveled to Wisconsin several times to buy the handguns from Valentine, prosecutors said. Among the weapons were several LCP Ruger .380 ACP pistols, a Century Arms Draco 7.62x39 caliber pistol and a Glock 10mm pistol.
Rocha was arrested in Wisconsin on Aug. 9, prosecutors said. He was ordered held in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Tuesday.
Valentine turned himself in on Aug. 5, and has pleaded not guilty, prosecutors said. He was released on bond, and is due in court again Sept. 17. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.