Missouri man pleads guilty to illegally selling firearms

Gun Crime or Firearm

An Independence, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally selling firearms without a license, some of which have been seized during arrests at several crime scenes.

Frank E. Hedden, 25, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license.

By pleading guilty, Hedden admitted that he sold 21 firearms to an undercover special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for a total of $11,155 between Feb. 26 and July 16, 2019.

On May 7, 2019, investigators served Hedden with a warning notice. Investigators explained to Hedden that several firearms he purchased from licensed firearms dealers had been recovered in crimes within a relatively short amount of time after Hedden purchased them. This indicated Hedden could be re-selling them, thereby dealing in firearms without a license. Investigators further explained to Hedden that he could be prosecuted if he was buying firearms with the intent to resell them. Hedden signed an acknowledgment receipt for the Warning Notice of Unlicensed Firearms Dealing in Violation of Federal Law.

A few days later, however, Hedden met again with the undercover agent and illegally sold the agent two pistols for $1,200. During that meeting, which was recorded, Hedden told the undercover agent about the warning notice. “I don’t know if it’s anything, you know, of your or somebody else,” he said, “they said I had several firearms show up in crime scenes lately.” Hedden then added, “I knew this would happen eventually.”

The undercover agent told Hedden the firearms he purchased were going to Mexico and asked Hedden if he could obtain more AK-47 type pistols, to which Hedden responded “Yeah. So, I’ll have to figure out something … I’m going to try to figure something out cause like I said, I like doing the business, it’s nice to come into a little extra money.”

Hedden subsequently sold three more firearms to the undercover agent on two separate occasions.

On July 17, 2019, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Hedden’s residence and seized 33 firearms (which must be forfeited to the government). Officers also seized a red binder that contained 100 bills of sale for firearms; 18 of the documents were for firearms sold to the undercover agent, 72 of the documents were for firearms that Hedden sold to other individuals, and 10 of the documents were for firearms that Hedden purchased from other individuals.

Under federal statutes, Hedden is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley K. Kavanaugh. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.