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Rhode Island man sentenced to prison after illegally possessing stockpile of guns and ammunition



PROVIDENCE – A Rhode Island man who was previously convicted and incarcerated on state felony firearm charges and who was later found by federal agents to be illegally in possession of firearms and parts to make – and stockpile – a collection of un-serialized, privately made firearms, also known as “ghost guns,” along with silencers and thousands of rounds of ammunition, was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

38-year-old Walter Garbecki of West Greenwich previously admitted to a federal judge that, between March and July 2022, when he was unable to lawfully purchase firearms and ammunition from federally licensed firearms dealers due to previous felony convictions, he used various websites to purchase, firearm triggers and so-called “lower parts kits” to construct Glock-style pistols. Garbecki also ordered 2,480 rounds of ammunition, including 800 rounds of hollow point ammunition; firearm magazines and pistol holsters; and firearm maintenance supplies from the websites.

“Whether they are purchased, stolen, or manufactured at home from an internet-ordered kit, federal law is clear: firearms do not belong in the hands of felons, and we will work tirelessly to take them, and the criminals who carry them, off of our streets,” remarked U.S. Attorney Cunha. “I commend our federal partners at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their superb investigative efforts to keep Rhode Island communities safe.”

Garbecki pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on March 2, 2023, to charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and possession of firearm mufflers or silencers. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to thirty-six months of incarceration to be followed by three years of federal supervised release.

At the government’s request, items seized from Garbecki’s home on September 20, 2022, by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, including four fully functioning ghost guns and two in various stage of assembly; three silencers; approximately 1,500 rounds of ammunition; and various parts and kits used to assemble “Ghost Guns,” have been forfeited to the government, and will be destroyed.

“When individuals illegally manufacture firearms because they are unable to purchase them legally, ATF will continue to pour our resources into stopping these crimes in their tracks,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge James Ferguson.

“Walter Garbecki’s three-year sentence should serve as a warning to those who intend to misuse the U.S. Mail for this type of criminal activity,” said Inspector in Charge Ketty Larco-Ward, Boston Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “The collaborative efforts and dedication of the Postal Inspectors, Special Agents of the ATF, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office resulted in bringing Garbecki to justice. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service remains vigilant, pursuing criminals like Garbecki to ensure the public’s trust in a safe and secure mail system.”

According to state court records Garbecki was convicted in 2019 in Rhode Island state court on charges of sale or possession of silencers; unlawful devices attached to a semi-automatic weapon allowing automatic fire; possession of a firearm while delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance; and drug trafficking. In that matter, law enforcement seized, among other items, an AR-15 style rifle that Garbecki modified to allow it to fire automatically; a Taurus .40 caliber handgun; three shotguns; seven rifles; a homemade firearm silencer; and cocaine and drug trafficking paraphernalia.

The current federal case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald R. Gendron.

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