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Ruling enhances federal penalty for theft of firearms |

Ruling enhances federal penalty for theft of firearms

Brian Bowling
| Thursday, December 15, 2011 12:00 a.m

Stealing firearms now carries a potentially longer sentence.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that a change in federal sentencing guidelines dismantles its previous ruling that people convicted of stealing firearms were not subject to an enhancement adding time for carrying a firearm during the commission of a felony.

The ruling came in the case of Jason Keller, 32, of Hyattsville, Md., who pleaded guilty in June to driving a stolen vehicle through the front door of FAZI Firearms in Plum and stealing 30 firearms in 2007.

The government asked for the firearm enhancement, which would have given Keller a recommended sentence of five years and 10 months to seven years and three months in prison.

Relying on the 3rd Circuit’s previous ruling, U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster removed the enhancement, which lowered Keller’s recommended sentence to three years and 10 months to four years and nine months. He then sentenced Keller to four years in prison.

Federal prosecutors appealed the decision, and the 3rd Circuit overturned it yesterday. The appeals court sent the case back to Lancaster for new sentencing.

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