Providence men sentenced to state prison in illegal firearms trafficking scheme
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that two Providence men were sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to their roles in a wide-scale illegal straw-purchasing scheme involving the purchase and sale of 89 handguns in Rhode Island between June 2019 and August 2020.
Brady Robinson (age 27) and Yovaniell Sostre (age 26) were indicted in February 2021, by the statewide grand jury on multiple felony counts stemming from a joint investigation by the Providence Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and the Office of the Attorney General into the straw purchase of dozens of firearms throughout the state.
“Urban violence is driven by the proliferation of illegal guns in the hands of those who readily use them to settle scores or protect other criminal activity. Many times, those guns are stolen from those who possess them legally. Other times, people who can’t buy guns themselves because of a previous felony conviction convince someone else to buy a gun on their behalf, which is itself unlawful and dangerous. That is precisely what happened here,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Background checks are designed to screen out those who, because of their prior criminal behavior, should not have access to firearms. The defendants attempted to evade those checks. They have now paid a high price, and deservedly so.”
A straw purchase of a gun is a crime where an individual buys a gun on behalf of another to avoid federal and state background checks, which are designed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals who are precluded by law from buying them themselves.
Robinson entered a plea of guilty on June 24, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to sell a concealable weapon without proper paperwork and to sell a pistol or revolver to a prohibited person, and one count of soliciting another to sell a concealable weapon without proper paperwork and to sell a pistol or revolver to a prohibited person.
At a sentencing hearing last Thursday before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause, the Court sentenced Robinson to 10 years at the ACI with five years to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.
Sostre entered a plea of guilty on June 24, 2021, to one count each of conspiracy to sell a concealable weapon without proper paperwork, conspiracy to sell a pistol or revolver to a prohibited person, soliciting another to sell a concealable weapon without proper paperwork, and soliciting another to sell a pistol or revolver to a prohibited person.
At a sentencing hearing last Wednesday before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause, the Court sentenced Sostre to 10 years at the ACI with four years to serve, and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation.
Had the case proceeded to a trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that between April 1, 2020 and August 12, 2020, Robinson and Sostre conspired with and solicited a codefendant, Rashaan Mangum, on multiple occasions to purchase handguns illegally.
Investigators determined that on one occasion, Sostre negotiated with Mangum to purchase on his behalf a Springfield Armory Hellcat 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, a Glock semi-automatic pistol, and two 30-round high-capacity magazines for $2,000. On another occasion, Sostre negotiated with Mangum to purchase of a Springfield Armory XD semi-automatic pistol and a .357 magnum pistol for $2,200.
Investigators also determined that Robinson negotiated with Mangum to purchase a Glock semi-automatic pistol, a Draco pistol, and several other firearms on his behalf. Robinson also requested that Mangum provide an automatic firearm, but Mangum told him he could not legally purchase such a firearm.
Under Rhode Island law, individuals convicted of crimes of violence are prohibited from possessing firearms. Both Robinson and Sostre were previously convicted of crimes of violence in 2014 stemming from separate incidents; Robinson of breaking and entering and Sostre of second-degree robbery.
Additionally, Robinson is awaiting sentencing in federal court on an unrelated charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“Straw purchasing and illegal trafficking of firearms is a serious criminal offense that puts firearms in the hands of individuals who can’t legally purchase or possess them," said James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division. "ATF remains dedicated to identifying, investigating and arresting these individuals and making our streets and communities safer from violent firearm related crimes."
“This is another example of an extensive, multi-agency investigation into an unlawful straw-purchasing scheme that resulted in the apprehension of two individuals and the removal of dozens of illegal firearms from our streets,” said Steven M. Paré, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety. “I commend PPD Detective Matthew McGloin for his vigilant work related to this investigation, as well as the other agencies involved, and also thank the Office of the Attorney General for their continued dedication to utilize whatever resources necessary to ensure that firearms are kept out of the hands of violent and dangerous criminals.”
The case against Mangum is pending in Providence County Superior Court. It is alleged that between June 2019 and August 2020, Mangum purchased 89 handguns using false information at various firearms dealers in Providence, Woonsocket, Warwick, Cranston, and North Kingstown and conspired with and delivered the handguns to other individuals.
Assistant Attorney General Joseph J. McBurney and Special Assistant Attorney General Edward G. Mullaney of the Office of the Attorney General; Detective Matthew McGloin of the Providence Police Department; and Special Agent Kellie Senecal of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives led the investigation and prosecution of the case.