A local gun dealer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and income tax evasion was sentenced Monday to 26 months in federal prison by Judge Christopher Conner of the U.S. Middle District Court in Williamsport.
Franklin D. Lowe, 57, of Old Lycoming Township, and former owner of All American Guns, knowingly hired a convicted felon to purchase and sell firearms throughout the state between 2006 and 2009 at estate auctions and on the street. The firearms consisted of revolvers, pistols, rifles and even an UZI submachine gun.
At least one attempt at selling a firearm was done off the books. Sometime between 2008 and 2009, Lowe instructed the felon to get $2,000 by selling an unregistered machine gun and silencer.
Regarding the tax evasion conviction, Lowe filed two fraudulent tax returns for 2009. In the first return, he claimed a tax refund of $534,419 by using fake tax forms. In the second return, he did not report $163,000 worth of income and failed to pay $55,754 in taxes.
Judge Conner considered Lowe's declining health while sentencing him.
Lower, who is paralyzed from the upper chest down as a result of a motorcycle crash years ago, told Conner that he hadn't been aware that the felon was prohibited from handling firearms.
"To my knowledge, this, to me, was all legitimate," Lowe said. "I became dependent on him and he took advantage of my very regulated business behind my back. I have much remorse for not being more diligent in the hiring process."
Lowe's defense attorney, Joseph Conte, told Conner that Lowe did not hire the felon with the intent to break the law.
"It's a sad thing that spiraled from there," Conte said, emphasizing Lowe's clean record prior to his recent conviction.
The prosecuting lawyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne P. Samuelson, said that Lowe showed a "complete and utter disregard for the law." He said Lowe tried to renew his federal firearms license in February, "as if nothing happened."
Conner closed the proceeding by admonishing Lowe for his failure to "accept responsibility."
"I'm not getting anything from the defendant or the defense counsel that Mr. Lowe is actually accepting responsibility for the events that occurred," Conner said. "This is more than inadvertence. This is more than simply relying on somebody else's representation. This is, in fact, criminal conduct, and there should be an admission to that conduct. You don't sell UZIs off the books without committing a crime."
Lowe is to report to the bureau of prisons by 2 p.m. on May 28 to serve his time.