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Eden Prairie Felon Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison in Firearms Straw Purchasing Conspiracy

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 Defendant was also in possession of a sawed-off shotgun

MINNEAPOLIS – An Eden Prairie man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for illegally possessing straw purchased firearms and possessing an unregistered firearm.

“Today’s sentencing reaffirms our office’s commitment to reducing gun violence and prosecuting violent offenders who put public safety at risk,” said Acting United States Attorney W. Anders Folk.

According to court documents, between June 15, 2020, and October 28, 2020, Damien Lashaun Nelson, 32, conspired with three women to illegally buy multiple firearms that he was prohibited from possessing because he is a convicted felon. One of the straw buyers, Melissa Hallich, 48, of Brooklyn Park, pleaded guilty to buying four guns on behalf of Nelson, including a Taurus .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver, and two Sccy 9mm semi-automatic pistols. Hallich lied on the required ATF Forms 4473, stating that she was the actual purchaser of the guns when, in reality, Nelson gave her money and directed her to buy the guns. On October 22, 2020, Nelson also possessed a loaded Western Field, Model 30, 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun. Because he has multiple prior felony convictions in Dakota, Scott, and Hennepin Counties, Nelson is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition at any time.

Nelson pleaded guilty on December 29, 2020, to one count of conspiracy and one count of possession of an unregistered firearm. Hallich, who pleaded guilty on June 21, 2021, is scheduled to be sentenced on November 17, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk for the District of Minnesota made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Ann D. Montgomery sentenced the defendant.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Human Trafficking Task Force, the Burnsville Police Department, and the Eden Prairie Police Department, with assistance from the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bejar.


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