BOSTON – A Mashpee couple was indicted yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with making false statements in order to purchase two firearms which can only be purchased by law enforcement officers.
Justin F. Watson, 33, and Angel Ecker, 23, were each indicted on one count of making false statements during the purchase of firearms. Watson was also charged with one count of making false statements in a record. In April 2019, Watson was charged by criminal complaint and arrested.
According to charging documents, from March 2018 to February 2019, Watson was an Institutional Security Officer/Campus Police Dispatcher with the Cape Cod Community College Police. As such, Watson neither carried a weapon nor had the power to make arrests on campus.
It is alleged that Watson ordered a Glock pistol to be delivered to a firearms dealer on Cape Cod. On Aug. 26, 2018, Watson went to the firearms dealer to pick up the Glock, Model 22, GEN4, .40 caliber pistol. Before receiving the firearm, Watson provided his Cape Cod Community College identification card, which listed him as “Campus Police” and “Faculty/Staff,” to the manager and completed a Public Safety Purchase Form identifying himself as an Institutional Security Officer.
As alleged in court documents, Watson called another firearms dealer and spoke with the store’s operator, who informed him that only law enforcement officers with the power to conduct arrests could purchase Glock Model 26 firearms. Watson said he was a police officer with authority to make arrests.
On Nov. 17, 2018, Watson went to the second firearms dealer with Ecker and spoke with a sales manager. Ecker allegedly told the sales manager that she was Watson’s boss and that Watson had authority to make arrests. Watson identified himself as a police officer to the sales manager and then purchased a Glock, Model 26, GEN4, 9mm pistol for $425. Watson completed a required ATF Form and affirmed that he was the actual buyer of the firearm. The form warned that, “If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.”
During the sale, Watson provided his Cape Cod Community College identification card and completed a certification letter indicating that he was purchasing the firearm for “on or off duty use” and not “for resale.” Watson also completed another certification form and listed himself as “Campus Police.”
It is further alleged that Watson then transferred the Glock Model 26 to Ecker on Dec. 19, 2018.
During an interview with law enforcement, Watson acknowledged that he used his Cape Cod Community College identification card when he purchased both Glock firearms. He stated he used that ID because he did not think he could purchase the firearms without it. He also acknowledged that if the firearms dealers had understood that he was not a police officer with arrest powers, they would not have sold him the firearms. Watson further stated that he knew that Ecker, a civilian, could not purchase a Glock Model 26 herself and that he purchased the firearm for her.
Straw purchases interfere with firearm regulation and recordkeeping, and federal law makes it a crime to knowingly make false statements to a firearms dealer in connection with the lawfulness of the sale.
The charging statues each provide for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Kelly Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Boston Field Division, made the announcement. Cape Cod Community College Campus Police, Barnstable Police Department and Mashpee Police Department provided assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris of Lelling’s Public Corruption Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.