Wilkes-Barre woman admits to buying straw purchases of firearms

By Ed Lewis [email protected]om

SCRANTON — A woman from Wilkes-Barre pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to making false statements to purchase multiple firearms from dealers in Luzerne and Northampton counties in 2019.

Laquanna Bacote, 25, admitted to conspiring with others to purchase 14 firearms for another person while falsely claiming to be the actual purchaser of the firearms, according to U.S. Attorney David J. Freed.

Bacote made false statements on federal firearms forms to purchase firearms and unlawfully obtained firearms from H&H Tactical in Exeter and NJT Arms in Northampton, Freed stated in a news release.

U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion accepted the guilty plea and will sentenced Bacote at a later date.

Bacate was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 1 for her role in the scheme.

According to the indictment, an unidentified co-conspirator contacted Bacote on April 23, 2019, and asked if she could purchase firearms.

Bacote submitted paperwork to buy three pistols at H&H Tactical the same day.

The indictment alleged Bacote submitted paperwork to purchase 11 firearms at NJT Arms on May 19, 2019, and again to buy 11 additional firearms at the same dealer on May 24, 2019.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis P. Sempa.