Prosecutor: ‘Public needs protection’ from straw purchase facilitator
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.