Tube City Community Media Inc. is seeking freelance writers to help cover city council, news and feature stories in McKeesport, Duquesne, White Oak and the neighboring communities. High school and college students seeking work experience are encouraged to apply; we are willing to work with students who need credit toward class assignments. Please send cover letter, resume, two writing samples and the name of a reference (an employer, supervisor, teacher, etc. -- not a relative) to tubecitytiger@gmail.com.

To place your ad, email tubecitytiger@gmail.com.
Ads start at $1 per day, minimum seven days.

Tattoo Shop Owner Sentenced in Gun Case

Feds allege city man sold untraceable ‘ghost guns’

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
October 29, 2021
Posted in: Crime and Police News

One of the weapons that prosecutors said they confiscated in August 2019. (U.S. District Court documents)

The owner of a Versailles Avenue tattoo shop has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after prosecutors said he sold unlicensed and untraceable handguns from the business.

Richard Watson Jr., 33, of McKeesport also was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan to three years’ probation and a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors allege that Watson bragged that he was a member of an “outlaw motorcycle club” and that he told undercover informants that “everyone in the hood knows that I’m the gun guy.”

But his attorney argued that Watson’s previous lack of a criminal record, and his stable home life and business, demonstrated that he was not a threat to the community.

Watson pleaded guilty June 10 to possessing unlicensed firearms.

According to court documents, prosecutors said that the name of Watson’s tattoo parlor, Omerta Ink, “was a reference to his ‘vow of silence’” about his customers and his efforts to avoid surveillance.

“Omerta” is a word for an Italian “code of silence” enforced by organized crime bosses. The term was popularized in the United States by movies about the Mafia.

Federal agents armed with a search warrant raided Omerta Ink in August 2019, confiscating firearms, items that appeared to be firearm silencers and “various components that can be used to manufacture” weapons. 

Watson was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2020.

According to court documents, at least two of the guns confiscated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives were homemade AR-15 style pistols without serial numbers — so-called “ghost guns.”

Prosecutors called Watson a “danger to the community.”

“The evidence indicates that he was a covert firearms dealer, attempting to avoid detection by law enforcement as he pushed guns, some of them untraceable, onto the streets of communities like McKeesport, which are suffering from a rash of gun violence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman and assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey R. Bengel.

But Watson’s attorney, Wendy L. Williams, in asking Ranjan for lenience, said that her client’s boasts about being “the gun guy” amounted to exaggeration and bravado.

“Mr. Watson (had) a tragic childhood with zero guidance growing up,” Williams told Ranjan. “His lack of criminal history (and his) stable home and marriage and family life, as well as his ability to support himself through his tattoo shop and to employ others also weigh in favor of a lesser sentence.”

Prosecutors could have sought a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, court documents indicate.

Originally published October 29, 2021.

In other news:
"Poll Workers Needed i…" || "Write-In Candidate Ch…"