The owner of a now-closed Versailles gun store was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for possession of illegal firearms, tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness.
Erik David Lowry, 38, of Versailles also faces a $30,000 fine and three years' probation, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a prepared statement.
The sentence was handed down in federal court in Pittsburgh by U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab.
Lowry, who owned Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms on Walnut Street, pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2017. He also pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to illegally selling firearms.
The corporation’s conviction means that Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms is no longer legally permitted to possess or sell firearms, Brady said.
In January 2016, agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted a routine inspection of the store and became concerned by the business' operations, according to prosecutors.
They then opened what Brady called an "in-depth investigation" of the store and determined that Lowry and Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms had illegally bought and sold more than 100 firearms on what he called a "turn-and-burn" basis and was not keeping track of the purchasers' names, and without doing any background checks.
In addition, prosecutors allege Lowry acquired what federal officials classified as a "destructive device" --- a 12-gauge shotgun with a high-capacity drum magazine --- but failed to register it, as required.
Instead, they said, Lowry falsified paperwork and contacted several people in an attempt to help him destroy or dispose of the shotgun.
Schwab ordered that Lowry notify the court of the corporation’s dissolution as soon as that is complete.
Lowry could have faced up to 50 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
In separate cases, according to the ATF, the store sold guns to a person with a criminal record who would not have been able to pass a background check, and to a person with a past history of mental health issues who had been denied the purchase of a firearm by two other licensed gun dealers.
The ATF has expended "significant resources" attempting to locate and recover firearms sold illegally by Lowry's store, Brady said.
Brady commended ATF investigators and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office for the investigation that led to Lowry's indictment and conviction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt, who works in the U.S. Attorney's Violent Crimes Section, represented the federal government.
Originally published January 10, 2018.