Lawndale man sentenced for straw gun purchases

A 33-year-old Lawndale man on Monday was sen­tenced to 2 to 14 years in pris­on for buy­ing four guns for his 16-year-old drug deal­er.

Luke Dercole of the 6400 block of Lawndale Av­en­ue had been con­victed in Feb­ru­ary of straw pur­chas­ing sev­er­al guns for the teen, ac­cord­ing to the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice. 

A straw pur­chaser com­mits sev­er­al crim­in­al of­fenses by leg­ally buy­ing weapons for someone who is barred from own­ing those weapons. 

“The fact that a grown man bought four dif­fer­ent guns for a 16-year-old is un­fathom­able,” DA Seth Wil­li­ams said in a state­ment re­leased Monday af­ter­noon. “That coupled with the harsh real­ity that the teen used one of the guns to shoot an­oth­er young man only ce­ments the need for tough­er pen­al­ties for straw pur­chasers in Pennsylvania.”

Dercole pleaded guilty to straw pur­chas­ing the guns for 16-year-old Mi­chael Burak. 

The DA said Dercole bought the guns on four dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions. On Oct. 28, 2012, Burak used one of the guns to shoot a 20-year-old man on the 1200 block of Van Kirk Street. The vic­tim sur­vived. Burak pleaded guilty and is serving a 4-to-8-year state pris­on sen­tence.

The DA’s of­fice said po­lice were led to Burak and Dercole while in­vest­ig­at­ing a Frank­ford Av­en­ue home where they found a semi­auto­mat­ic pis­tol. Po­lice were able to de­term­ine the gun was one of four pur­chased by Dercole in Oc­to­ber 2012. In­ter­viewed by po­lice, ac­cord­ing to the DA’s of­fice, Dercole ad­mit­ted he bought the guns for Burak in ex­change for pack­ages of heroin.

As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney An­drew Well­brock of the Gun Vi­ol­ence Task Force pro­sec­uted the case. Judge Earl Trent Jr. sen­tenced Dercole. ••

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