DeJarnette-Rashan

RASHAN DEJARNETTERASHAN DEJARNETTE

MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> A 22-year-old Chester man will spend the next five years in state prison under a mandatory minimum sentence for firearm straw buyers.

Rashan DeJarnette, of the 100 block of Worrell Street, was convicted last month on six counts of conspiracy, one count of false reports and two counts each of making false written statements, firearm ownership, duty of other persons and tampering with public records. He was found not guilty on two counts of sales to an ineligible transferee and related conspiracy charges.

DeJarnette was sentenced under the Brad Fox Law, which provides for a mandatory minimum five-year sentence for two or more convictions of illegally transferring handguns to individuals who cannot legally obtain one themselves.

DeJarnette was arrested in September 2017 following a joint investigation by the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, the Office of the Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

He made the purchases for convicted felon Harry Jackson during a gun show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in May 2016, according to an affidavit of probable cause written by county Detective David Tyler.

Jackson, who has prior convictions including simple assault, burglary, delivery of a controlled substance, intimidation of a witness and terroristic threats, has not been charged.

DeJarnette, Jackson and two other men were observed handling and examining guns at various vendor booths by undercover agents of the Pennsylvania Attorney General Gun Task Force. Jackson picked out two guns at one vendor table and showed them to DeJarnette before the four men made their way to the food court.

DeJarnette later returned to the vendor table and filled out paperwork to buy the two guns, according to the affidavit. Records of sale indicated he bought two .380 Bryco Davis semi-automatic handguns and purchase forms represented that he was the actual buyer.

The four men exited the expo center and got into a 2007 Dodge Charger registered to Jackson at an address on the 1500 block of Shaw Terrace, according to the affidavit.

DeJarnette later admitted to investigators that Jackson had given him the money to make the buy. After leaving the expo, he said Jackson dropped him off at his house and left with the firearms still in his car.

DeJarnette told investigators that he knew it was illegal to purchase firearms for someone else and said he did not get paid for purchasing the guns, according to the affidavit. He also said that he reported the guns stolen to the Chester Police Department in September 2016 because he got scared when he heard that agents were looking for him.

Defense attorney Clinton Johnson said Tuesday that his client had been an A-student in school with an impeccable background and no prior run-ins with the law.

“This one hiccup, this one incident, has essentially ruined the life of a young man whose future was so promising,” said Johnson. “I believe – and all the evidence shows – that he was exploited … They took advantage of this young man, they annihilated his innocence and he stands before this court to be sentenced to state jail time. This is a tragedy all the way around.”

Deputy District Attorney George Dawson, chief of the Anti-Violence Task Force, said the extent of the tragedy in this case is not yet known.

“There are two guns out on the streets right now,” he said. “We don’t know if they’ve already been used or are going to be used, and this is something that is prevalent on the streets of Chester. The people who buy those guns, those straw purchasers, none of them have records. If they had records, they wouldn’t be able to buy the guns, and thus is the need for that (law).”

Johnson said he understood the conviction carries a mandatory minimum, but asked that Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge John Capuzzi run all of the charges concurrently. Dawson sought a probation detail.

Capuzzi told DeJarnette that the case pained him because his hands were tied with respect to the mandatory minimum, but he decided to run the sentences concurrently because the defendant had been forthcoming in a presentence investigation.

“I think you may have been duped, I think you may have been taken advantage of, but notwithstanding that, I don’t have the authority or the power to use my own discretion in sentencing you,” he said. “I don’t know what … precipitated you taking part in this escapade. I don’t know whether it was peer pressure, some type of other community pressure, whether it was the culture, but you find yourself in this predicament.”

In addition to prison time, Capuzzi gave DeJarnette a four-year period of probation. He noted that DeJarnette is not eligible for good time, but urged him to take advantage of programs offered at the prison and apply for boot camp when he has less than three years remaining on his sentence.

comments powered by Disqus