February 28, 2013: 19-year-old Johnny Leach of the 6000 block of Ditman Street was sentenced today to 2 to 4 years in prison followed by 7 years of reporting probation for participating in the straw purchase of a firearm in 2012.
On March 23rd of 2012, Leach went into a gun store in the Northeast section of Philadelphia along with 48-year-old Sophia Lawrence. Lawrence owed Leach money for drugs and agreed to purchase a 9mm handgun for him in order to pay off the debt. Lawrence was able to buy the gun because she had no criminal record or other disqualifying factors. At the time Leah arranged the “straw purchase” of the firearm, he was on juvenile probation for a gunpoint robbery. The employees of the gun store notified agents from the Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force of the suspicious nature of the purchase when Leach was observed in the store with Lawrence. Attorney General Agents immediately arrived and set up surveillance at the gun store and arrested Leach later that day.
The Gun Violence Task Force investigation revealed that on the day of the purchase Leach picked Lawrence up at her home, gave her $400 and drove her to the gun store to buy the gun. Both Leach and Lawrence went into the gun store and she filled out the paperwork certifying that she was the “actual buyer” of the gun. Her background check was approved and she took possession of the 9mm handgun. Attorney General agents were monitoring the entire transaction and followed Leach when he drove Lawrence back to her home. Lawrence got out of the vehicle and Leach drove off with the gun still in his possession. He was stop by the agents and taken into custody.
This case was prosecuted by Andrew Wellbrock of the Gun Violence Task Force.