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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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RM police officer, store operator charged in gun case

Monday, July 29, 2013


A federal grand jury has indicted a Rocky Mount police officer and the operator of a Bassett gun store on charges pertaining to alleged firearms purchases, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia.

Following an investigation headed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a grand jury charged David Carson Haskins, 57, with 18 counts of making false statements to a licensed firearms dealer in relation to the purchase of a firearm, the release stated.

In addition, Haskins and James Marion Slate, 25, of Rocky Mount, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to make straw purchases of firearms, according to the release.

An application and affidavit for a search warrant filed in February identifies Haskins as the operator of Southern Gun Inc. in Bassett.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Brian McGinn identified Slate as a Rocky Mount police officer.

Rocky Mount Police Chief David Cundiff said Slate has been with the department since May 2012.

McGinn said straw purchasing, as it pertains to the indictments, is "when you represent yourself as buying it (a firearm) for yourself but you're really buying it for someone else or to resell it."

According to the search warrant affidavit, the charges pertain to firearms originally purchased in February at Town Police Supply in Collinsville. The brand of Smith & Wesson rifles was new and had not been sold to the public before that, and the manufacturer requested that the 200 rifles be sold only to law enforcement, public safety officers and military, the affidavit states.

On Feb. 2, Town Police Supply was contacted by a customer who said he saw that Southern Gun allegedly was selling two of the rifles on an Internet site, the affidavit states. Because Town Police Supply was the only business in the area carrying the particular rifles, a Town Police store official stated "someone must have sold them to Southern Gun," the affidavit alleges.

A check of sales records for the rifles showed a police officer had bought two of the rifles, the affidavit states.

The investigator found firearms that matched the description of the "aforementioned rifles (allegedly) listed for sale by Southern Gun" on the Internet site but the serial numbers of the firearms were not listed "and therefore could not be verified," the affidavit adds.

Shortly after that, the investigator began working with a source who said Haskins allegedly "asked him if he would be interested in purchasing additional rifles from Town Police and selling them to him," the affidavit states.

Haskins allegedly told the source that Town Police did not want to sell to a competitor, which is why he could not buy the weapons himself, the affidavit states. It adds that Haskins allegedly told the source that he was paying some people $100 profit on each rifle they bought.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, the release stated.

Also, if convicted, Haskins faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison on 10 counts of making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer, plus a maximum possible penalty of up to five years on the other eight counts of making false statements, the release added.

An indictment is not an indication of guilt. It is a grand jury's determination that there is enough evidence to hold a trial. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the release stated.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Wolthuis will prosecute the case, the release stated.

The Henry County Sheriff's Office and Martinsville Police Department worked with the ATF on the investigation, the affidavit states.

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