Former KC Fire Department captain sentenced to six years in prison for illegally selling firearms to felons

Illegal Firearms and firearm theft

 A former captain in the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department was sentenced in federal court for illegally selling dozens of firearms over a five-year period, and to selling firearms to convicted felons.

James Samuels, 55, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to six years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Samuels to pay a fine of $11,282, which is the amount of cash seized by law enforcement officers at the time of his arrest.

On Aug. 31, 2020, Samuels pleaded guilty to seven counts of a federal indictment, including one count of conspiracy to make false statements during the purchase of firearms, one count of engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license, four counts of selling firearms and ammunition to persons prohibited by law from possessing them, and one count of possessing an unregistered firearm. Samuels has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest on Oct. 4, 2018.

Samuels admitted that he purchased 77 firearms from November 2013 to August 2018. Of those 77 firearms, 57 were Jimenez pistols. Samuels transferred 47 of those 77 firearms to third parties (including 43 Jimenez pistols). During this time, Samuels was not a licensed dealer of firearms.

Samuels also admitted that 10 to 20 of those firearms were sold to persons who were forbidden by law from possessing them. Samuels bought the firearms at a low price and sold them for a $40 to $50 profit.

Samuels conspired with others to make false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers by misrepresenting the identity of the actual buyer of firearms. Samuels purchased firearms then transferred ownership to another person, who later reported the firearms had been stolen.

Samuels was arrested on Oct. 4, 2018, following an undercover operation in which he sold an Armscor of the Philippines .38-caliber revolver to a confidential informant whom he knew to be a felon. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Samuels’s residence the same day and seized 28 firearms (including 22 handguns, five rifles, and one shotgun). Among the firearms seized was a Glock .40-caliber pistol with a TAC Isran GLR 440 stock installed, which was not registered to Samuels, and a Colt .45-caliber pistol, which had been reported stolen. In addition to the firearms, officers seized approximately 12,000 rounds of assorted ammunition, as well as firearm parts and accessories.

The Oct. 4, 2018, transaction is one of four instances cited in Samuels’s plea agreement in which the same confidential informant, whom Samuels knew was a felon and thus prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition, purchased a firearm and ammunition from Samuels. In each of those four instances, Samuels accompanied the confidential informant and an undercover federal agent to a licensed firearms dealer, where the undercover agent completed the paperwork for the straw purchase of the firearm on behalf of the confidential informant. In each instance, the straw purchase was at the direction of Samuels.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.