D.A.: Phila. woman bought guns for convicted felon

PHILADELPHIA - October 19, 2012

Prosecutors have charged Lakeisha Taylor, 41, with making so-called straw purchases for 31-year-old Michael Gardiner, a convicted felon.

They say Taylor bought six weapons, including three .40 caliber handguns, a .357 Glock and two .45 caliber handguns, between December 2011 and last week.

In this case Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says it was a gun store owner that caught on to what was really going on.

In mid-October, prosecutors say Taylor bought two handguns. The store owner tipped off police.

Authorities then checked her background and found she bought four more guns. Police say Taylor, who has no criminal history, bought the weapons for Gardiner. He's a convicted felon with a long rap sheet.

Officers arrested Gardiner at his home on Thursday with two of the guns in his possession.

"If you buy guns illegally for people, you are going to do serious time," said Williams.

Williams was talking about a bill passed this week by the General Assembly in Harrisburg that would make the penalties tougher. Now, someone convicted of multiple "straw purchases" of firearms in one case would be treated as a repeat offender and face a mandatory five- to 10-year prison sentence.

Last week authorities arrested 30-year-old Michael Henry for supplying convicted felon Andrew Thomas with weapons. Thomas fatally shot Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox following a traffic stop in September.

"While they may not have pulled the trigger in that homicide," said Williams, "they are just as guilty of the violence on our streets."

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign the bill into law. However, if convicted, Taylor and Henry will not face the new penalties.

Gardiner was to be arraigned Friday. Taylor remains in custody on $250,000 bail.

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