A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrest Of Silver Creek Man For Selling Illegal Assault Weapons

Man Twice Sold Assault Weapons to Undercover Investigator

Schneiderman: This type of activity has potentially dangerous consequences and must be stopped

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of 32-year-old Benjamin M. Wassell for selling illegal semiautomatic assault weapons to an undercover NYS Police Investigator on two separate occasions. The arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the Attorney General's Office and the New York State Police. If convicted, Wassell faces a potential sentence of up to 7 years incarceration.  

According to the criminal complaint filed against him in the Town of Hanover Court, Chautauqua County, Wassell arranged to sell an illegal DelTon DTI-15 assault rifle to an undercover NYS Police investigator in January 2013.   Because the rifle was outfitted with additional features including a pistol grip, a telescoping butt stock, and a bayonet mount, it is classified as an illegal assault weapon under the Penal Law.  The criminal sale of an illegal weapon is a class D felony.  

"By selling these illegal firearms, Mr. Wassell’s actions had potentially dangerous consequences for New Yorkers," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "We have seen far too much gun violence in our state in recent months and the sale of illegal semiautomatic weapons will not go unpunished.  I commend the work of investigators in this case who helped send a message that these types of illegal gun sales will not be tolerated."

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, "The defendant is accused of illegally selling assault weapons not once, but twice. Add to that, he was willing to sell to someone without knowing anything about their background and it's exactly the type of dangerous and illegal activity that can lead to more gun violence in our communities. Once again our partnership with the Attorney General's office has resulted in taking a dangerous criminal off the streets."

The complaint also alleges that in February 2013, Wassell sold an Armalite AR-10 Magnum Semiautomatic Rifle to the NYS Police undercover investigator, in violation of the newly enacted New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 which made illegal the Transfer, Sale, Exchange and Disposal of an Assault Weapon to a Person Unauthorized to Possess such a Weapon.  The violation of the SAFE Act is a class A Misdemeanor. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Cydney A. Kelly and Paul F. McCarthy of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecution Bureau, under the Supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief, Stephen Maher, Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. The case is being investigated by Senior Investigator Sandra Migaj and Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle, under the supervision of Assistant Chief Investigator Antoine Karam and Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella, and New York State Police Investigators Stacy Stawicki, Michael O'Rourke, Kevin Gallagher, under the supervision of Senior Investigator Charles F. Torres and Lieutenant Martin McKee of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, CNET Western Region.

The charges against Wassell are accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.