A Chester woman has been charged with illegally transferring two firearms she purchased at a gun show to a convicted felon.
Kiarah Strickland, 25, of the 1100 block of Highland Avenue, is charged with transferring a firearm to a convicted felon, providing false information and tampering with public records, all felonies of the third degree, as well as other related offenses.
“(Strickland) willingly traveled to a gun show to purchase a gun for a known felon, showing a complete disregard for the law and the safety of her own community,” said District Attorney Katayoun Copeland in a release announcing the charges. “By doing so, and placing these guns in the hands of a criminal, the defendant now faces felony charges herself, and up to ten years in prison.”
Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division Detective David Tyler launched an investigation in May based on information he received from Special Agent Robert Burke of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force, according to the release.
The release states Burke had been working undercover at the Philadelphia Armory Gun Show at 2700 Southampton Road April 18, where he saw a group of two women and three men handling various guns.
Burke allegedly saw one of the men hand the women cash and direct them to several of the firearms displays. Strickland was seen filling out paperwork and purchasing a 9 mm Taurus semi-automatic firearm, according to the release.
The other woman also tried to buy a gun but was denied due to a background check, according to the release. Strickland allegedly filled out paperwork and purchased the second firearm, a Kel Tec .22 caliber semi-automatic firearm. The group then got into a silver Ford Explorer and left the gun show, according to the release.
Burke and Special Agent Richard Reinhold went to the Chester Police Department May 2 and met with Detective Steve Byrne. Byrne told the agents he had stopped Timothy Hamler while he was driving the same Explorer April 5 and recovered two firearms, including one that was stolen, the release states.
The agents visited Strickland at home May 4 and asked to see the two firearms she had purchased at the gun show, according to the release. Strickland allegedly took Reinhold and Burke to the basement, where Hamler was present, and retrieved both firearms.
The serial number on the Kel Tec pistol had been obliterated and the Taurus had scratch marks around the serial number, according to the release. Both firearms were seized and Strickland went with authorities to the Chester Police Department for an interview. Strickland told authorities that she went to the gun show with her sister, Hamler, a man named Rob and his friend “Poo,” who was later identified as Byron Oliver, according to the release. Oliver has previously been convicted of a felony, according to online court records, and is therefore ineligible to possess a firearm.
Strickland allegedly admitted that Oliver gave her $400 to purchase the Kel Tec and that she left the firearms with the other four members of her party after leaving the gun show, constituting the transfer.
Copeland spokeswoman Emily Harris said Friday that the agents were initially unable to contact Strickland at an address she had provided, but later received a call from her indicating she had been out of town and setting a time to meet. This would have given Strickland an opportunity to retrieve the guns she had previously passed off and have them on hand when agents came to her door May 4, Harris said.
Deputy District Attorney George B. Dawson, chief of the Anti-Violence Task Force, will be prosecuting the case under the Brad Fox Law, which includes a five-year mandatory minimum for two or more illegal gun transfers.
Strickland has been remanded to the county prison in Concord after failing to post $250,000 cash bail. It was unclear Friday if she had an attorney.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27 before Magisterial District Judge Wilden H. Davis.