Guilty plea by man tied to gun used in killing of two Westerville officers

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COLUMBUS (AP) — A man charged with providing the gun used to kill two Ohio police officers has pleaded guilty and now faces up to 10 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say 30-year-old Gerald Lawson, of suburban Cleveland, bought the handgun that 31-year-old Quentin Smith used in the February slayings of Westerville officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.

Lawson pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of aiding and abetting a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. Lawson’s family and public defender didn’t comment. No sentencing date was set.

A criminal complaint says Smith gave Lawson the money to buy the gun last summer along with $100 for completing the transaction. Smith wasn’t allowed to have weapons because of a previous burglary conviction.

Ben Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said this case clearly demonstrates the dangers of straw purchasing. “He knew when he obtained the firearm for Smith, he knew that Smith was a prohibited person both because of his burglary conviction and because of his prior conviction for domestic violence.”

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