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Man sentenced for straw purchase of 25 guns


A Philadelphia man was sentenced Monday, Jan. 22, to serve up to 16 years in state prison for the straw purchase of more than two dozen firearms in Bucks County.

Bruce Anthony Smalley, 27, pleaded guilty in August to making false statements on firearm purchase forms, selling, or transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person and criminal conspiracy to sell or transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person, related to the straw purchase of 25 guns.

Appearing before Common Pleas Judge Gary B. Gilman, Smalley was sentenced to 7 ½ to 16 years in state prison. Smalley has been incarcerated since September 2022.

Smalley and co-defendant Malachi Bolling were both arrested as part of an investigation by the Warwick Township Police Department, the Attorney General’s Office, and Bucks County Detectives. Bolling received a similar sentence in July. The investigation found that Smalley and Bolling purchased 21 firearms from April 22, 2022, to May 27, 2022. Prior to that period, Smalley purchased four guns between 2019 and 2020.

The investigation began in May 2022 after Warwick Township police received a report of a man named Bruce Smalley purchasing two guns from Tanner’s Sports Center, then leaving the store to meet with two other men in a nearby parking lot. One of those men had been in the gun store earlier but left without buying anything.

During the investigation, detectives tracked Smalley’s gun purchases and found that he and co-defendant Bolling purchased 25 guns in Bucks County. Eight of the guns have since been recovered, including some during criminal investigations in Philadelphia. When confronted, Smalley claimed that he no longer had the guns, but none of them were ever reported as stolen.

The investigation also found that Smalley and Bolling lied about their addresses when filling out the necessary forms to purchase a firearm.

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