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Felon pleads guilty to trying to purchase gun with counterfeit money

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, a Madison County man pleaded guilty today in federal court to being a convicted felon and trying to buy a pistol with counterfeit money. Montez Chebeir Martin, age 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon to one count of passing counterfeit obligations or securities and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson.

“Felons who desire to buy firearms will be aggressively prosecuted and should concern all of us. Felons who desire to buy firearms with counterfeit bills exacerbate our concerns even more,” Town said. “Thanks to the victim’s quick action in reporting the crime to police, and to the dedicated work of ATF and the Secret Service, this felon will serve federal punishment in a federal facility under the federal guidelines.”

“This individual was prevented from illegally purchasing a firearm with counterfeit currency,” Williams said. “This case highlights one of the many ways the U.S. Secret Service collaborates with local, state, and federal agencies to combat financial crimes affecting our communities.”

“This court action demonstrates ATF’s commitment to target illegal firearms trafficking in all forms, to include the use of the internet,” Watson said. “ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence leverages technology to reduce violent firearms-related crimes.”

According to Martin’s plea agreement with the government, he answered an individual’s advertisement of a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol and 450 rounds of ammunition for sale on the website, armslist.com, in September 2017. Martin and the seller agreed to meet in a Decatur business parking lot so Martin could buy the gun. Martin lied when the seller asked Martin if he were a felon. The seller gave Martin the pistol and ammunition. The agreed price for the gun was $450. Martin gave the seller $400. While the seller was counting the money, Martin started walking quickly away. The seller realized the money was counterfeit after seeing Chinese characters on three $100 bills.  The seller pulled a pistol and jumped in front of the vehicle Martin was in, telling Martin to open the door and place the pistol and ammunition on the ground an. Martin complied before driving away. The seller reported the incident to police and later picked Martin out of a photo lineup.

The maximum penalty for passing counterfeit obligations is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Martin’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 2.

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The Secret Service and ATF investigated the case in conjunction with the Decatur and Huntsville police departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Davis Barlow is prosecuting the case.

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