A woman who purchased nearly 100 guns for black-market buyers pleaded guilty this week to one federal charge.
As part of a plea deal, Sarah Jean Elwood, 34, of Crystal admitted to buying 97 guns over the course of a year — including 62 in a single month — from gun shops across the Twin Cities, and then reselling them to third parties for $100 each.
This process, known as “straw purchasing,” is a significant driver of the illegal gun market that is arming criminals and driving violent crime in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In a typical straw purchase, the buyer has no felony conviction or other factor disqualifying them from owning a firearm. But they are really buying the weapon for someone else, who’s either legally ineligible or doesn’t want a paper trail linking them to the weapon.
In Elwood’s case, authorities say they found multiple guns she’d purchased in connection to shootings within weeks of buying them. She sold many of the guns, from handguns to AR-15s, to a black-market dealer named Geryiell Lamont Walker, according to charges. Walker is also charged in connection to the conspiracy case.
This summer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Elwood and her fiancé, Jeffrey Paul Jackson, with five counts related to the straw purchase scheme. In a deal with prosecutors, they’ve both pleaded guilty to one charge of aiding and abetting making false statements during the purchase of a firearm. They have yet to be sentenced, but the plea agreement says they will likely face between 70 and 87 months in prison, per sentencing guidelines.