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Feds: 2 men sold machine-gun converter kits ‘for people who want to shoot some people’

Thousands of the Chinese-made converters like those 2 south suburban men are accused of selling have been shipped to the U.S. The ATF says it’s trying to get them off the streets.

Leonard Johnson’s apartment was raided Monday. Authorities say they recovered 117 machinegun converters. They say he posted a photo on his Snapshat account holding a stack of bills.
Leonard Johnson’s apartment was raided Monday. Authorities say they recovered 117 machinegun converters. They say he posted a photo on his Snapshat account holding a stack of bills.
U.S. District Court

Two south suburban men sold devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons, which one man said were for “people who want to shoot some people, gangbangers and s---,” federal authorities say.

Steve Goley, 23, and Leonard Johnson, 32, are accused of selling switches that turn semiautomatic Glock handguns into machine guns, according to charges filed in federal court in Chicago.

A semiautomatic weapon fires one shot every time the trigger is pulled. An automatic fires continually until the trigger is released.

It’s illegal to have such a conversion kit even if it’s not attached to a firearm unless the owner is registered with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The kits, made in China, can be bought on the Internet for less than $70 but are sold on the street for hundreds of dollars, authorities say.

Steve Goley.
Steve Goley.
U.S. District Court

In May, the ATF said thousands of the devices had been imported from China and that it had launched a nationwide recovery effort. In the past year, people in Alaska, California, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York and Rhode Island have faced similar charges of having machine-gun converters.

In September, Goley sold two of the devices for $1,000 to an informant working for the ATF and two more later that month to an undercover officer posing as the informant’s uncle for $700 outside a Lansing hotel, according to an ATF agent’s affidavit.

Goley is accused of offering to sell the undercover officer at least 10 more converters at a discount of $275 each.

“It’s gonna go to the people who want to go shoot some people, gangbangers and sh--,” the affidavit says Goley told the officer. “These switches not no joke. Would you be able to get rid of 500 switches?”

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says Leonard Johnson posted a Snapchat video of two guns on the seat of a car.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says Leonard Johnson posted a Snapchat video of two guns on the seat of a car.
U.S. District Court

The officer said he was interested in buying more.

Goley, who was charged Friday, also is accused of selling the agent a small amount of cocaine, telling him at one tense moment that he was worried he was a cop, according to the affidavit.

Monday afternoon, agents raided Johnson’s Robbins apartment and arrested him. He admitted he supplied the converter devices, according to the ATF, which said agents found 117 of the devices, guns equipped with machine-gun converters, $8,000 and drugs.

According to the affidavit, Johnson posted a video on his Snapchat account holding a stack of cash and a video showing him with two guns on a car seat. His Snapchat display name was “Savage Crazy,” the affidavit said.

At a hearing Wednesday, a federal judge ordered Goley held without bail pending trial.

The judge pointed to the “staggering numbers of people killed and shot” in Chicago, the lethality of machine-guns, the fact that Goley repeatedly failed to show up for other court hearings and that authorities say he sent a threatening text message to the mother of his son.

“I love you, Mom,” Goley said at the end of the virtual court hearing.