Prose­cu­tor: ‘Pub­lic needs pro­tec­tion’ from straw pur­chase fa­cil­i­ta­tor

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> Claim­ing “the pub­lic needs pro­tec­tion” from a New Jer­sey man, “the driv­ing force” be­hind the il­le­gal trans­fer of a hand­gun to a North Coven­try man who was in­volved in sev­eral Pottstown shoot­ings, pros­e­cu­tors will ask a judge to send him to state prison.

“The pub­lic needs pro­tec­tion from Rashaun Cham­bers. The de­fen­dant is a drug dealer who ar­ranged a com­pli­cated straw pur­chase in or­der to get a gun into the hands of some­one who had al­ready shot at four peo­ple,” Mont­gomery County As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Richard H. Brad­bury Jr., a mem­ber of the district at­tor­ney’s Pottstown com­mu­nity pros­e­cu­tion unit, wrote in court pa­pers seek­ing state prison time against Cham­bers.

In May, Cham­bers, 22, of the 100 block of West­ern Av­enue, Mor­ris­town, N.J., pleaded guilty to charges of crim­i­nal use of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­ity, firearms pur­chase duty of other per­sons and con­spir­acy to deal in pro­ceeds of un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties in con­nec­tion with in­ci­dents that oc­curred be­tween Novem­ber 2014 and March 2015.

Brad­bury and co-prose­cu­tor Sa­man­tha L. Thomp­son want a judge to im­pose

“This de­fen­dant was the driv­ing force be­hind the straw pur­chase of a hand­gun for an in­di­vid­ual who had al­ready shot at four peo­ple over two dif­fer­ent nights.” — Mont­gomery County As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Richard H. Brad­bury Jr.

con­sec­u­tive sen­tences for each of Cham­bers’ crimes, which would put Cham­bers in state prison.

Judge Gail A. Weil­heimer will sen­tence Cham­bers later this year.

While await­ing trial on the charges, Brad­bury al­leged in court pa­pers, Cham­bers racked up other drug-re­lated ar­rests in other ju­ris­dic­tions.

“This sug­gests a sig­nif­i­cant de­gree of crim­i­nal so­phis­ti­ca­tion. This brazen be­hav­ior demon­strates a clear lack of re­morse, un­der­stand­ing, and care about his ac­tions in this case and for so­ci­ety as a whole,” Brad­bury ar­gued in court pa­pers.

With the charges against Cham­bers, de­tec­tives al­leged he was “the mid­dle-man to fa­cil­i­tate the straw pur­chase” of a firearm through his girl­friend, Bri­ana Ni­c­hole

Sickel, to Skyler Se­bas­tian Voll­muth, of North Coven­try.

“This de­fen­dant was the driv­ing force be­hind the straw pur­chase of a hand­gun for an in­di­vid­ual who had al­ready shot at four peo­ple over two dif­fer­ent nights,” Brad­bury ar­gued. “The de­fen­dant’s con­duct demon­strates that con­sec­u­tive

sen­tences on each count…is the only ap­pro­pri­ate re­course.”

Sickel, 29, of the 600 block of West Schuylkill Road, North Coven­try, pre­vi­ously pleaded guilty to felony charges of mak­ing ma­te­ri­ally false writ­ten state­ments and con­spir­acy to deal in pro­ceeds of un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties and is await­ing sen­tenc­ing in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dent.

De­tec­tives al­leged Sickel pur­chased a Kel­tec .380-cal­iber hand­gun from

a New Hol­land, Lan­caster County, gun store on Nov. 10, 2014, and on the pa­per­work Sickel lied and claimed the gun was for her. How­ever, au­thor­i­ties said the gun made its way into the hands of Voll­muth and its serial num­ber was oblit­er­ated.

Ear­lier this year, Voll­muth, 21, of the 1200 block of East Cedarville Road, was sen­tenced to a to­tal of nine to 20 years in state prison af­ter he pleaded guilty to charges of ag­gra­vated

as­sault, firearms not to be car­ried with­out a li­cense and pos­sess­ing a firearm with an oblit­er­ated serial num­ber in con­nec­tion with mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing two Novem­ber 2014 shoot­ings in Pottstown.

Bal­lis­tics tests re­vealed the same weapon was used by Voll­muth dur­ing the Nov. 6 and Nov. 8 shoot­ings, but au­thor­i­ties said the gun used in the two shoot­ings was never re­cov­ered.

How­ever, on Nov. 13,

2014, po­lice and mem­bers of the Ches-Mont Emer­gency Re­sponse Team ar­rested Voll­muth at his res­i­dence and con­fis­cated an­other gun, a loaded Kel­tec .380-cal­iber firearm that had an oblit­er­ated serial num­ber. That’s the gun au­thor­i­ties al­leged Voll­muth ob­tained with the help of Sickel and Cham­bers.

When po­lice ini­tially ques­tioned Sickel about the gun, she told them she sold the gun to a friend “be­cause she needed money

for rent,” ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

Court doc­u­ments in­di­cate de­tec­tives un­cov­ered the straw pur­chase scheme with the help of wit­nesses who ap­peared be­fore the county’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing grand jury.

Brad­bury pre­vi­ously said the ar­rests of Voll­muth, Sickel and Cham­bers were the re­sult of the “outstanding work” of Pottstown de­tec­tives Mark Wick­er­sham and Brooke Fisher, who in­ves­ti­gated the in­ci­dents.

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