BOSTON – A Connecticut man was sentenced today in federal court in Springfield in connection with stealing 17 firearms from a West Springfield gun shop and making false statements to federal agents.
Fernando Rivera, 25, of New Britain, Conn., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to 87 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On May 5, 2021, Rivera pleaded guilty to one count each of theft of a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee; being a felon in possession of a firearm; interstate transportation of a stolen firearm; receipt, possession, concealment, storage, barter, sale, or disposition of a stolen firearm in interstate commerce; and making false statements to a federal official.
Shortly after midnight on or about Aug. 29, 2020, Rivera and co-defendant Christian Castro engaged in a crime spree in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts that included seven ATM thefts or attempted thefts and culminated in the theft of 17 firearms from a federal firearms licensee in West Springfield. At the time of his offenses, Rivera was a felon on state probation for a prior narcotic charge in Connecticut.
On Sept. 18, 2020, federal agents arrested Rivera and Castro at their homes in Connecticut. During interviews with investigators, Castro admitted that he drove to and from several ATM robberies and the gun store robbery, but falsely stated he never received, kept or even touched any of the stolen guns.
During a search of Rivera’s phone, investigators identified several photographs and videos depicting Rivera (and Castro in one instance) with many of the stolen firearms. A forensic extraction of the defendants’ phones revealed communications indicating that on Sept. 4, 2020, Rivera discovered that he was a suspect in the thefts and then traveled with Castro to New York to sell at least three of the firearms.
On Oct. 29, 2021, Castro was sentenced by Judge Mastroianni to 87 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Boston Field Division made the announcement. Special assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police; Springfield, Hadley, West Springfield, New Britain (Conn.) and Middletown (Conn.) Police Departments; Connecticut State Police; Connecticut Department of Correction; and Connecticut Judicial Branch Adult Probation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven H. Breslow and Julian Canzoneri of Mendell’s Springfield Branch Office prosecuted the case.
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