ERIE, PA — A resident of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court on June 16, 2022, to charges of violating federal laws relating to smuggling goods from the United States, and possessing unregistered firearms, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced.
Donald Robert Witherow, 48, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that in September 2019, Witherow, without first obtaining the required approval, sent ammunition and ammunition magazines to the Netherlands. In addition, on March 26, 2020, Witherow possessed unregistered firearms, namely destructive devices.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders works together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevent and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Judge Baxter scheduled sentencing for October 13, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued Witherow on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Witherow.
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