Long prison term for Maryland man who sold untraceable guns to criminals

A Montgomery County, Maryland, man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for selling “ghost guns” and drugs.

Thirty-six-year-old Charlie Kessler, of Four Corners, was sentenced Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to six charges including conspiracy to distribute cocaine and several gun-related charges.

“Ghost guns,” which are becoming more prevalent across the country, are untraceable because they have been built from readily available parts without serial numbers. These guns have no registration and often also violate federal gun laws because they are fully automatic.

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said the case was, “one of the most in-depth gun investigations I have seen in my whole career as a prosecutor in Montgomery County — well over 35 years.”

McCarthy said his office and Montgomery County police worked two years on this case to take “this purveyor of ghost guns” off the streets. McCarthy added, “our region has one less source for illegal guns.”

Investigators presented evidence of Kessler selling the guns, sometimes at gas stations. Prosecutors said Kessler sold the illegal guns to drug dealers, heroin users, robbers and gang members.

In videos recovered by police, people can been seen firing the automatic weapons on a property in Brandywine, Maryland, where some of the illegal operations took place.

Kessler pleaded guilty to six counts including conspiracy to distribute cocaine, illegal possession of a regulated firearm, possessing a stolen regulated firearm, unlawful sale of a regulated firearm, selling a regulated firearm without a license, and the off-roster sale of a manufactured handgun.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John Maloney sentenced Kessler to 40 years in prison, suspending all but nine years.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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