A Middle Island couple and a Georgia man ran a gun-smuggling ring, meeting at Long Island hotels and a gas station to exchange nearly $50,000 worth of handguns and rifles over six months, Suffolk County prosecutors said Monday.
The Suffolk County district attorney's seven-member Gun Suppression Team investigated the trio and purchased 53 handguns, five rifles, two bulletproof vests and a silencer in 11 separate transactions, prosecutors said.
District Attorney Thomas Spota said investigators infiltrated the ring "using electronic, telephonic, video and human surveillance." The investigation resulted in the arrests Thursday of Shawdale Frederick, 32, and his girlfriend Janet Lewis, 33, both of Tudor Lane, Middle Island; and Joshua Galbert, 31, of Marietta, Ga., at the Holiday Inn Express in Stony Brook.
The three were arraigned Monday in Riverhead on a 62-count indictment, including first-degree criminal possession of a weapon for each, Spota said.
Frederick was jailed on a $1 million bail; Lewis on $850,000; Galbert on $800,000, Spota said.
At a news conference Monday, prosecutors displayed several guns, including a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, a .50-caliber Desert Eagle and Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum. Spota said the three were "very smart" in attempts to cover their movements. They changed cellphones at least twice a month, and they changed the locations of the sales and used various rental cars to transport weapons, he said.
The three also made transactions at a La Quinta Inn in Bohemia and a gas station in Yaphank. Prosecutors said Frederick faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Lewis faces a minimum of 8 years in prison and Galbert faces a minimum of 7 1/2 years in prison.
Spota said "almost every single gun was loaded" when it was delivered by Galbert to Frederick and Lewis. Three of the weapons had actually been reported stolen from locations in the South. Galbert was identified as the supplier who transported the weapons from Georgia to Long Island via rental cars, Spota said.
According to records, Galbert has multiple convictions in Georgia. "And despite all of these convictions that he has had, all of these interactions with law enforcement, he was able to get a seemingly endless supply of weapons and bring them up here for sale," Spota said.
With Gary Dymski
and John Valenti