D.A.: Man forced woman in drug debt to pay him with gun purchase

guns
Rikard Larma/Metro.

A Wissinoming man was today sentenced to two to four years in prison and seven years of probation for forcing a woman with a drug debt to pay it back in gun purchases.

Investigators said 20-year-old Johnny Leach picked up 48-year-old Sophia Lawrence at her home on March 23, gave her $400 and drove her to a Northeast Philadelphia gun store.

Lawrence owed Leach money for drugs and agreed to purchase a 9mm handgun for him to pay off her debt, according to authorities.

Both participants went inside the store and Lawrence filled out paperwork certifying she was the gun’s “actual buyer.” Police said Leach was on juvenile probation at the time for a gunpoint robbery conviction.

When employees saw Leach and Lawrence together in the store, they thought something was suspicious about the purchase and contacted agents from the Attorney General’s Gun Violence Task Force.

Agents immediately arrived and set up surveillance at the gun shop. Investigators followed Leach as he drove Lawrence back to her home and observed him driving off with the gun still in his possession. He was stopped and arrested.

Leach pleaded guilty today to conspiracy by making false written statements and providing false information to obtain firearm ownership.

Lawrence pleaded guilty in September to firearm offenses and was sentenced to time served plus 23 months in prison and three years of probation.


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