Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.
|February 25, 2002
||Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357
BURTONSVILLE WOMAN SENTENCED FOR ROLE
IN SUPPLYING HANDGUNS TO DRUG DEALERS
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Margaret
Marie Sermons, 45, of 3543 Hepburn Court, Burtonsville, was sentenced
for her role in purchasing four handguns for the purpose of giving those
guns to individuals she knew to be prohibited from possessing the guns.
Sermons pled guilty on October 4, 2001, to two counts of Straw Purchase
of a Regulated Firearm, and two counts of False Application to Purchase
a Regulated Firearm. The Honorable Louise G. Scrivener sentenced Sermons
to five years, with all but nine months suspended. Sermons must begin
serving that nine months immediately in the Montgomery County Detention
Center, and after her release, Sermons will be on 18 months of supervised
Between June 12 through November 16, 2000, Sermons purchased four handguns
from gun shops in Montgomery County. Each time she applied to purchase
a handgun, she denied on both state and federal forms that she was buying
the gun for someone else. Nevertheless, as she made the fourth purchase,
the gun shop became suspicious of her intentions. The gun shop was concerned
that, given the types of guns she was buying and the presence of other
people with her that appeared to be directing her to certain guns, Sermons
was acting as a straw purchaser. The store contacted the Maryland State
Police Cease Fire Unit, and reported their suspicion.
Members of the Cease Fire Unit arrived at her house shortly after she
received the fourth gun, and discovered that she did not have any of the
four guns in her possession. Sermons claimed that one handgun had been
stolen, although she conceded she had never reported it stolen. Sermons
claimed two of the guns were with her brother in North Carolina, and that
the remaining one was accidentally left by her in the trunk of the car
of a friend that had taken her to pick up the gun from the gun shop.
Further investigation by troopers revealed, however, that her brother
had been deceased for over five years and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, & Firearms provided tracing information that showed two of
the guns had been recently recovered from crime scenes in other jurisdictions.
One handgun was recovered by the Prince Georges County Police Department
from a mall parking lot after they responded to investigate a call that
a fight was taking place. Another gun was recovered in Washington, D.C.
from a man who was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys Office, and
convicted, for selling crack cocaine and illegally possessing the handgun
Sermons had purchased only a few months earlier.
As the investigation expanded to other jurisdictions, agents from the
Baltimore Office of the ATF joined the investigation along with the Office
of the Attorney General and the Maryland State Police. This investigation
ultimately revealed that Sermons was buying these guns for drug dealers
and violent offenders living in the District of Columbia and Prince Georges
County area, and that she knew the individuals that had been caught illegally
possessing two of the guns, and that their was an actual "waiting
list" for guns from those in the drug trade.
"This case is a perfect example of the depth of the gun trafficking
problem and why Operation Crime Gun is so important to keeping guns out
of the wrong hands," Attorney General Curran said.
This case was investigated by the Cease Fire Unit of the Maryland State
Police, as well as the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms,
and was prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, Special Crimes
Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, in connection with a partnership
the two agencies have formed to further efforts to combat handgun violations.
Funding for Operation Crime Gun comes from a grant received from the Governors
Office on Crime Control and Prevention.