Charges filed against 3 for illegal gun sales

BY STACI WILSON

Three Susquehanna County men face firearm related charges after the ownership of handguns seized last year from the home of an alleged member of a crystal meth drug ring were traced back to them.

About 40-45 guns were seized from Ernesto Nava’s Main St., New Milford home by federal agents on Aug. 7, 2012, including 14 handguns. Nava was taken into federal custody following the raid at his home.

Traces on the guns seized were conducted by the Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives through the National Tracing Center, according to an affidavit filed in New Milford District Court.

According to court documents filed by Susquehanna County detectives, none of the handguns seized were legally owned by Nava.

Instead, according to the affidavit, Nava purchased the firearms through Stanley Wojtkowski, 50, New Milford, but no paperwork or Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) inquiries were ever conducted in the handgun transactions.

According to Pennsylvania law, handgun ownership transfers must be conducted at a licensed firearms dealer’s business and a PICS check conducted to verify the purchaser’s eligibility to own the firearm.

In an interview with investigators, Wojtkowski said he had sold Nava a Ruger pistol, along with two rifles in May or June 2012, but said that no paperwork was done on those sales.

Nava was also interviewed, he told investigators that he had also purchased three guns – a Russian revolver, Ruger pistol and Taurus revolver – from Wojtkowski. According to the affidavit, the legal owner of those guns was listed as Robert Starr Jr., of Great Bend.

According to the complaint filed in court, Starr told the detectives that he had sold the guns to Wojtkowski for what he believed to be the man’s personal collection. Starr told investigators he was supposed to meet with Wojtkowski at a later date to do the paperwork but that never happened.

According to the affidavit, Wojtkowski later told Starr that he had sold the handguns to Nava. It was then, court documents said, that Starr realized he could be in trouble for the sale.

Nava, according to the affidavit, also bought two other handguns from Wojtkowski. Ownership of a North American Arms revolver and a Bryco pistol was traced back to Allen Sydlosky Jr., of New Milford.

Sydlosky had used the guns, along with cash, as payment for work done on an excavator by John Phillips sometime in 2011, according to the affidavit.

Phillips confirmed to investigators that Wojtkowski, his son-in-law, had sold both of the guns to Nava.

Wojtkowski confirmed, according to the affidavit, that no paperwork was ever done in connection with the gun sales.

Wojtkowski, Starr and Sydlosky all face counts of firearms ownership – duty of other persons.

Preliminary hearings for Starr and Sydlosky, both charged with misdemeanors, have been scheduled for Jan. 28 in New Milford District Court.

Wojtkowski faces felony charges on the counts. His preliminary hearing, originally slated for Jan. 13, was continued to Feb. 11.