Foley man pleads guilty to illegal sale of firearms – including some guns used in crimes

MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) – A Foley-area man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal firearms chargeadmitting to illegally selling a firearm without a federal firearms license.

Steven R. “LO” Hansen’s plea to one count of selling firearms without a federal firearms license resolves a case that was about to go to trial. Prosecutors agreed to a plea bargain that will see the judge sentenced to zero to 18 months; originally, Hansen faced five years in prison.

Other, more serious charges alleging the import of silencers and the structuring of financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, will be dismissed.

Defense attorney Dennis Knizley said he intended to argue against the jail sentence.

“We believe this is a case where a probation sentence is appropriate,” he said.

Court records show Hansen, 42, had been under federal investigation since April last year, when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began reviewing reports that he was selling guns at gun shows and other venues.

According to Hansen’s plea agreement, seven gun traces between March 18 and December 27 last year revealed guns that Hansen sold and later implicated in crimes. These include two pistols used in crimes in Mobile within 70 and 171 days, respectively. In another case, a convicted felon had a gun 207 days after Hansen sold it.

A multi-agency gang unit in Memphis recovered a gun in December that Hansen had sold, according to the plea deal.

In October 2021, Mississippi law enforcement arrested a suspect in an armed robbery in Vicksburg who told investigators he remembered buying the gun from Hansen at an art show. arms in Jackson, Mississippi, in April of the same year.

According to the plea agreement, the suspect told investigators he was in line at a booth next to Hansen at that gun show as he waited for his background check when Hansen’s girlfriend told him that the accused could sell him the same weapon without “any papers”. .” He paid $1600-$400 more than he was going to pay the legitimate dealer.

Hansen lived in Pensacola and ran a surprise military store called Rugged Earth until about four years ago when he moved to a 60-acre compound in the Foley area that he purchased. His plea agreement says the property does not have a digital address and is not equipped with electricity, utilities like water, electric and sewer. Hansen opened a Rugged Earth store in Foley but closed it in early 2020 and operated it online, the plea document says.

ATF agents tracked Hansen as he traveled to gun shows in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana from October 4 last year to February this year .

The plea agreement says that in June of last year, ATF agents sent confidential informants, both convicted felons, who were able to purchase weapons from Hansen at a gun show. in Mobile.

The following month, according to the plea document, an undercover officer at the gun show in Robertsdale asked Hansen if they could meet at a later date.

“You could,” he replied, according to the plea document. “I’m a big gunslinger. I have hundreds.

Knizley, the defendant’s attorney, had argued that his client had the legal right to sell guns from his personal collection because selling guns was not his primary business. Prosecutors argued that the indicated volume, if not.

“It’s murky,” Knizley said.

Knizley also disputed the silencer charges that a grand jury later added.

“It was also a murky area,” he said.

Knizley was prepared to call an expert witness to testify that the devices listed in the indictment were not in fact silencers. Prosecutors had asked a judge to bar the testimony. This issue had not been resolved at the time the US Attorney’s office and the defendant crafted the plea bargain.

U.S. District Judge Terry Moorer set Hansen’s sentence for February.

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