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More Than 100 Firearm “Switch” Devices Seized From Suburban Chicago Home; Devices Are Capable of Turning Handguns Into Machine Guns

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 CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago man was arrested on a federal firearm charge after law enforcement this week seized machine guns and more than 100 “switch” devices from his home.  Each device is capable of converting a semi-automatic pistol into a machine gun.

LEONARD D. JOHNSON, also known as “Scrap,” 32, of Robbins, is charged with one count of illegal possession of a machine gun.  Johnson was arrested Monday after agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives executed a search warrant at his home.  The agents seized five firearms, including three machine guns, and approximately 117 “switch” devices, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. 

Johnson made an initial court appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert in Chicago and was ordered to remain in federal custody.  A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1:00 p.m.

The arrest was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of ATF.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Lansing Police Department and Midlothian Police Department.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles W. Mulaney.

Holding illegal firearm offenders accountable through federal prosecution is a centerpiece of Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods.  In the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Lausch and law enforcement partners have deployed the Guardian and PSN programs to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, particularly firearm offenses.

“Machine guns pose a dangerous threat to public safety and have no place on Chicago-area streets,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Federal law enforcement will act swiftly to neutralize the threat posed by illegal machine guns and keep our communities safe.”

“This case is an excellent example of continued partnership,” said ATF SAC deTineo.  “ATF agents, in coordination with local law enforcement and federal prosecutors, will investigate and prosecute those in possession of these illegal firearms.”

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  The charge in the complaint is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.


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