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Attleboro man sentenced to prison after trafficking gun used in mall shooting of 15-year-old girl



BOSTON – An Attleboro man previously convicted of illegal gun possession in Rhode Island was sentenced Thursday for trafficking dozens of guns from Georgia into Massachusetts.

Richard Philippe, 42, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On Dec. 17, 2021, Philippe was convicted by a federal jury of transporting firearms into Massachusetts from Georgia without a license and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

Between April and June 2019, Philippe purchased dozens of handguns from a straw purchaser in Georgia. Philippe returned with the guns to a warehouse in Taunton where he sold them for cash. Philippe, who had a prior felony firearms conviction in Rhode Island, had neither the lawful ability to possess firearms or ammunition, nor a federal license to deal in firearms.

The investigation arose following a July 2019 undercover purchase of two guns from a long-time Brockton drug dealer, who had purchased those two guns and more than a dozen other guns from Philippe and had been selling them into criminal commerce on the South Shore. The undercover operation triggered a search of Philippe’s warehouse in Taunton, which revealed Philippe’s firearm trafficking. The weapons were traced back to multiple purchases by Philippe’s straw purchaser from a pawn shop in Georgia specializing in selling low-cost guns.

Several guns that Philippe transported and sold were found by police in the possession of criminals and drug dealers. One gun trafficked by Philippe was used by a gang member to fire at rival associates at the Braintree Mall, but tragically struck an innocent 15-year-old girl twice, in the hand and in the chest. The victim survived.

Other guns were hazardously abandoned, such as one gun that was discovered within a pile of leaves in a parking lot in Taunton, loaded with 12 bullets. Another gun was found by cleaning staff in a vacated hotel room in Brockton.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Boston Field Division, made the announcement. Assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police, Brockton Police Department, Taunton Police, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Rhode Island State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fred M. Wyshak III and John T. McNeil of Rollins’ Organized Crime & Gang Unit prosecuted the case.

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