FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Firearms Trafficker Pleads Guilty To
Purchasing Guns in Georgia and Pennsylvania, Busing Them
To New York to Sell on the Streets of Brooklyn
To Be Sentenced to 17 Years in Prison
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that the leader of a gun trafficking ring pleaded guilty in connection with bringing 112 guns, including 20 assault weapons, to New York to be resold on the streets of Brooklyn. The guns were purchased in Atlanta, Georgia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant knew what he was doing was illegal but had no qualms about putting the lives of Brooklyn residents at risk so that he could turn a hefty profit. These merchants of death willing to exploit lax gun laws outside of New York are now on notice that a prison cell awaits them in New York.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Michael Bassier, 32, of East 96th Street, in Canarsie, Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, two counts of second-degree criminal sale of a firearm and one count of fourth-degree conspiracy before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy and is expected to be sentenced to 17 years in prison on September 16, 2016.
The evidence against Bassier included his boasts on wiretaps that he was essentially taking advantage of lax gun laws down South to bring firearms into the City.
“I’m selling them the right way and the wrong way. When I’m out of state, like in Atlanta and Georgia and all that, it’s all legal, but New York, it’s completely illegal. So when I bring (expletive) up here and sell it up here, that’s illegal,” Bassier said in a phone conversation that was intercepted via electronic surveillance.
Two of Bassier’s co-defendants have also pleaded guilty: Tanisha Minor, 27, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sale of a firearm and fourth-degree conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing; Anthony Jackson, 30, of Kingsborough 4th Walk, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree conspiracy and was sentenced to one year in jail. Charges are still pending against Willie Ware, 27, of East 96th Street, in Canarsie, Brooklyn; Jonathan Destin, 27, of Snyder Avenue, in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn; Lance Millien, 28, of Norcross, Georgia; Nicole Taylor, 25, of Monroeville, Pennsylvania; and Terrah Moore, 23, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The defendants have been variously charged in a 541-count indictment with fourth-degree conspiracy; first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a firearm; first-degree criminal possession of a weapon and other related charges.
The indictment was the result of a long-term investigation conducted by the New York City Police Department’s Firearms Investigations Unit and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Between September 2014 and September 2015 the defendants allegedly conspired to sell guns purchased in Georgia and Pennsylvania, which were bought by an NYPD undercover detective in Brooklyn. The investigation included the use of intercepted electronic communications as well as physical and video surveillance. The weapons recovered during the course of the investigation include 9mm Ruger and Glock pistols, .22 caliber Walther pistols, .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistols, .45 caliber Taurus pistols, and a variety of assault weapons including multiple .22 long rifle caliber semi-automatic Walther Model MP Uzis, .39 mm caliber semi-automatic Norinco Model SKS, 9mm Luger semi-automatic Jimenez Arms Model JA25 and others.
During the course of the investigation Bassier made 12 trips to Atlanta, Georgia, using Chinatown buses for transportation, including the Bus2NYC and other Chinatown bus lines. He brought up to six guns to New York from Atlanta on each trip, which were later brought to Brooklyn and sold to the undercover.
Furthermore, Bassier made at least six trips by automobile to Pittsburgh to purchase guns which were later brought to Brooklyn and sold to the undercover.
According to the investigation, Bassier allegedly enlisted several individuals, referred to as “straw purchasers,” in the Atlanta, Georgia area to purchase firearms on his behalf from gun stores, pawn shops and street dealers. Specifically, it is alleged that Jonathan Destin of Brooklyn introduced Bassier to the Atlanta, Georgia area. Destin, Lance Millien and Tanisha Minor, both of Georgia, acted as Bassier’s primary accomplices there. Minor, Millien and Destin are alleged to have purchased firearms and to have recruited other women to purchase firearms for Bassier.
It is further alleged, that, in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, Bassier relied on Nicole Taylor and Terrah Moore, both of Pennsylvania, to purchase firearms from gun stores, pawn shops, websites and street dealers, as well as to recruit other buyers.
Furthermore, according to the investigation, once he returned to Brooklyn with the guns, Bassier arranged to sell them to the undercover. Almost all of the sales took place at a Walgreens parking lot located at Rockaway Parkway and Avenue M in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Bassier paid between $150 and $300 per gun, and paid the straw purchasers a fee of $50 per gun. The undercover paid on average between $800 and $1,200 per gun, although the assault weapons purchased by the undercover cost approximately $2,000 to $2,500. The undercover spent a total of $130,050 on the firearms purchased during the course of the investigation.
Finally, it is alleged, Bassier was aided in Brooklyn by Willie Ware, who personally sold firearms to the undercover on two occasions and by Anthony Jackson, who worked as a lookout for Bassier during firearms transactions.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Charles Lennon and Detective Scott Martin of the NYPD’s Firearm’s Investigations Unit, under the supervision of Sergeant Donald Morgan, Lieutenant Michael Jennings, Captain Robert Van Houten, and Deputy Inspector Brian Gill and the overall supervision of Chief Thomas Purtell.
The District Attorney thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for their assistance in this matter.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Ashlyn Miranda and Kathleen Murphy, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Tara Lenich, Deputy Chief for Special Investigations and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, VCE Bureau Chief and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of Investigations and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.