July 13, 2012 — Ronald D. Barker, 42, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District in Ashland to possession of a fully automatic Ruger .223-caliber rifle after a Rowan County sheriff’s informant purchased the illegal weapon during a covert drug buy.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Cline said that during a drug sweep in January 2011 the department gained information that Barker was involved in illegal gun sales.
According to court records, the informant purchased the automatic weapon and ammunition from Barker for $1,000.
During the covert videotaped transaction, Barker showed the informant how to use the selector switch enabling the riffle to fire as a semi-automatic, three- round burst and fully automatic weapon.
Barker then warned the informant that owning this type of gun without a license was a “federal offense”.
Morehead Police Department’s SRT (Special Response Team) assisted the Rowan County deputies in serving a search warrant at Barker’s residence after the covert gun purchase.
“We were not sure how many weapons Barker had and decided it was safer to assume the worst,” said Cline.
The search produced 24 additional weapons, including a loaded sawed-off shotgun, multiple prescription pills and 36 Fentanyl suckers.
“Barker was placed under arrest on state charges of trafficking and lodged at the Rowan County Detention Center,” Cline continued. “The automatic weapon was sent to be examined at the state crime lab.”
Cline said the ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) then took over the federal weapons case.
“Barker was released on a $20,000 cash bond in Rowan County on April 30,” he said. “Our department then assisted the ATF with serving the federal weapons warrant at Barker’s Rock Fork Road residence.”
Barker changed his plea to guilty of possession of a fully automatic weapon in exchange for the dismissal of a second charge of possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon.
Barker, who is free on bond, will face up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine during his sentencing by U. S. District Judge David L. Bunning on Oct. 9.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Goldy said sentencing on the state’s trafficking charge would occur prior to the federal sentencing.
“Now that he has pleaded guilty in federal court, we will be looking for a plea within a month so that sentencing would run consecutively with the federal charges.”
Kim Bandura can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.