GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Joseph Jerry Sweet, age 33, and Ronald Patrick Cook, age 27, both from the Grand Haven area, pled guilty to two counts of stealing firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees. The defendants face up to ten years in prison on each of the two counts of conviction.
Sometime during the night on June 27, 2013, the two defendants broke into the Renegade River store in Spring Lake, Michigan, stealing eight firearms. On July 13, 2013, the two broke into the Grasmeyer Brothers Gun & Supply Shop in Dalton Township, Michigan, at approximately 12:30 a.m., stealing 24 firearms, including twenty handguns and four rifles. Cook admitted as part of his plea and in an interview with law enforcement that the two intended to traffick the firearms and that they exchanged some of the weapons for heroin and cash on the street. Federal law prohibits the theft of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees. Both stores are federally-licensed firearms dealers.
Cook was previously convicted five times for felonies, including a breaking and entering conviction in 2007 and an assault with a dangerous weapon conviction in 2011. Sweet is a three-time convicted felon, having been convicted of breaking and entering in 2004, larceny in 2005 and felony drunk driving in 2008. Federal charges of possessing firearms as convicted felons will be dismissed at sentencing, given the guilty pleas to the theft charges.
This case resulted from a coordinated investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department, the Grand Haven Public Safety Department, the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department, and the Michigan State Police-West Michigan Enforcement Team (WEMET).
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles said, “Stealing firearms is illegal. Intending to sell stolen firearms is both illegal and dangerous. These defendants put people’s lives at risk by increasing the number illegal guns in the hands of criminals.”