BOSTON – A Tyngsborough police officer and a Chinese national were arrested today and charged with firearms violations.
Daniel Whitman, 36, of Pelham, N.H., and Bin Lu, 49, a Chinese national residing in Westford, were charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to violate provisions of the National Firearms Act (NFA) by making, possessing and failing to register short-barreled rifles, as well as possessing a suppressor without proper registration. The defendants will make initial appearances today in federal court in Boston.
According to the charging documents, Whitman is currently a full-time police officer with the Tyngsborough Police Department and the owner and principal manager of Hitman Firearms, LLC, a retail gun shop in Tyngsborough. Whitman maintains a Type 01 Federal Firearms License (FFL) which allows for buying, selling, transferring and gunsmithing (i.e. servicing, of firearms), but does not permit manufacturing of any type of firearms. Lu is listed on the FFL as a manager of Hitman Firearms and is also an investor in the store.
It is alleged that Lu and Whitman sought to build a large indoor shooting range, Freedom Alley Shooting Sports (FASS), which would serve regional and international customers, and offer shooting clinics and other services using funding from Chinese investors. On several occasions, Lu and Whitman did run firearms training camps, consisting of shooting and tactics trainings, for Chinese tourists. Providing such trainings to foreign nationals requires a license from the U.S. Department of State, which Whitman and Lu never applied for nor received.
Whitman and others allegedly recorded videos on a YouTube channel operated by Lu that promotes Hitman Firearms, FASS and the training camps.
The purpose of the NFA is to regulate transactions of certain firearms, which are deemed to be more dangerous, by regulating the manufacture, possession and registration of certain firearms including short-barreled rifles (SBRs), suppressors, short-barreled shotguns and machineguns. The NFA requires registration of all NFA firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR). The NFA further prohibits an FFL who is not properly registered from manufacturing or changing a firearm that originally was not an NFA weapon to create an NFA weapon.
According to the criminal complaint, Hitman Firearms does not possess the required license to manufacture, or NFA status to possess, firearms regulated by the NFA. Nevertheless, Whitman and Lu allegedly possessed and manufactured items that are covered by the NFA, including a short-barreled rifle and suppressor.
Specifically, during a search of Hitman Firearms, a complete CMMG MK9 rifle was found in the store. The shop’s acquisition and disposition record (a/k/a A&D book) indicated that the rifle was acquired from another store in March 2016 as a lower receiver only. The investigation determined that the seized firearm is an SBR since it has an 8.625 riffle barrel and a collapsible stock. It is alleged that neither Whiteman nor Lu registered the firearm as an SBR in the NFRTR.
During the search, Lu arrived at the shop and gave federal agents permission to search the vehicle he was driving. The vehicle contained several firearms including a Sig Sauer MCX with a folding stock attached. The shop’s A&D book indicated that the firearm was acquired from another store as a pistol. However, at the time it was recovered from Lu’s vehicle, the firearm had a stock attached to the rear, which made the weapon into a rifle. The firearm was never registered as an SBR in the NFRTR. According to the charging document, at the time of the search, Lu stated that “Dan” put the stock on the end, thus making the pistol into a rifle.
The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $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; William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Jonathan Davidson, Special Agent in Charge of Diplomatic Security Service in Boston; and Joseph Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Boston made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris and Neil Gallagher of Lelling’s Public Corruption & Special Prosecutions Unit are prosecuting the case.
Tyngsborough Police Chief Richard Howe provided the following statement concerning the arrest of Whitman.
“I am aware of today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice that Officer Daniel Whitman was one of two individuals arrested in connection with a federal criminal investigation.
“The Tyngsborough Police Department has from the moment of being notified of this investigation cooperated fully with Federal Investigators and will continue to do so as this case continues. I placed Officer Whitman on paid administrative leave in August, 2019 as a result of this criminal investigation. Officer Whitman will remain on paid administrative leave pending a review of the specific information and allegations included in the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice today, which we have just received.”