Covington man sentenced for stealing 24 guns from dealer

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A previously convicted felon, who under federal law is prohibited from possessing a firearm, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday for breaking into a federally licensed firearms dealer and stealing two dozen firearms with hopes of later selling them.

David Christopher Martin, 40, of Covington, Va., previously pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke to one count of being a previously convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm and one count of transporting one or more stolen firearms in interstate commerce from Virginia to South Carolina.

On Tuesday in addition to Martin's prison sentence, he was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to the gun store owner, a fine of $500 and a $200 special assessment.

"Since becoming the United States Attorney it has been one of my top priorities to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited users," U.S. Attorney John Fishwick said. "This defendant planned to not only possess firearms illegally but sell them to other prohibited users. I am thankful to the men and women who investigated this case and made our community safer by recovering many of these guns."

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Fishwick, Martin admitted that on or about April 4, 2016 he used a rock to break the glass of the front door of Mountain Top Hunting and Fishing, a federally licensed firearms dealer located in Covington. After breaking the glass of the front door, Martin entered the store through the broken window. Martin admitted that prior to the burglary he "cased" the business, examining the layout, inventory and security. To make his escape easier, he disassembled part of a fence at the rear of the store. Additionally, Martin purchased a set of wire cutters to disable what he believed to be part of the alarm system.

Once inside the store, Martin used the wire cutters to break the glass of a display cabinet where handguns were on display. He took what he thought to be the most valuable handguns and put them into a red bag and left the store with 24 handguns. Martin later admitted he planned to sell the handguns for approximately $6,000 and split the money with his girlfriend.

Early on the morning of April 4, 2016, Martin got into a van with co-worker to travel to Florida for a pressure washing job at a paper mill, taking the guns with him in the red bag. At one point during the trip, the driver of the van told Martin if he had anything illegal in the van he needed to get rid of it. At a rest stop near Yemassee, South Carolina, Martin got out of the van and hid the guns in the nearby woods, taking a picture of a unique tree near where he hid the guns, which were later recovered by federal agents.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offices in Roanoke, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida, the

Covington Police Department, the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, the Bloomingdale, Georgia Police Department, Colleton County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina and the Nassau County Florida Sheriff's Office. United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. and Assistant United States Attorney Anthony P. Giorno prosecuted the case for the United States.