NORRISTOWN — A Plymouth Township man accused of illegally purchasing guns for a multi-county gun trafficking network used a selfie video to disparage a slain township police officer, according to court documents and prosecutors.

“In this current investigation, a search of Quinn Whisted’s mobile phone yielded a disparaging comment and image in regards to Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox,” detectives wrote in a criminal complaint, alleging Whisted sent the image to Alexander Smith, an alleged conspirator in a gun trafficking organization.

On Wednesday, Whisted, 22, of the 3000 block of Runnymede Drive, was charged with illegally purchasing 17 firearms on behalf of a gun trafficking network led by several people including Smith, 20, of the 3000 block of Jolly Road, Plymouth Meeting. Both men face charges including corrupt organizations and conspiracy in connection with the organization that allegedly relied heavily on so-called “straw purchase” schemes.

A “straw purchase” occurs when someone who is legally allowed to purchase a firearm purchases one and then gives it illegally to someone who is not permitted to purchase that firearm.

“Part of this investigation turned up a selfie video that Mr. Whisted did, that he took of himself at Officer Fox’s memorial in Plymouth Township,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged at a Wednesday news briefing where he announced gun trafficking related charges against Whisted, Smith and 12 others.

“He spits on Brad’s memorial and he honors the man that killed Brad Fox. This video was sent to his co-defendant Alexander Smith who is also from Plymouth Township,” Steele, his voice rising with anger, as he described Whisted's alleged expletive-filled video.

“The information gleaned from Whisted’s phone clearly illustrates his knowledge of the danger and violence associated with the illegal purchasing and distribution of firearms. It is our opinion, this also showed a disregard for the potential violence associated with the illegal purchase and transfer of firearms,” county Detective Jeffrey Koch, Montgomery Township Detective Todd Walter and state police Trooper Brian Kedra wrote in the criminal complaint.

Fox, of New Hanover, a five-year veteran of the Plymouth police force, was fatally shot on Sept. 13, 2012, a day before his 35th birthday, by a Lower Merion man armed with an illegally obtained Beretta 9mm semiautomatic handgun as Fox pursued the man on foot near the Schuylkill River Trail after the man fled from a hit-and-run crash on Conshohocken Road. Fox died from a gunshot wound to the head and his killer then turned the gun on himself and died by suicide.

“He was well aware of Plymouth Township Officer Brad Fox and how he was killed in the line of duty by a coward with an illegal gun,” Steele said about Whisted.

Steele said state law allows for more severe penalties for straw purchases and the illegal transfer of firearms, “primarily because it is very dangerous and they end up involved in violent crimes.”

Steele added Fox’s murder spurred the state Legislature to pass what is commonly referred to as “The Brad Fox Law,” which sets mandatory sentences for those involved in straw purchases.

The law imposes a mandatory five-year prison term for a second offense when a gun purchased by someone with a clean record is then resold to someone not legally permitted to own or possess a firearm.

That means Whisted, with 17 alleged straw purchases, potentially is facing more than 80 years in prison if he’s convicted of all the charges.

“Since I view our job in law enforcement not to just react to crimes but to prevent it, we are going to make sure that he doesn’t get the opportunity to put any more guns out on the streets,” Steele vowed. “Our law enforcement community takes gun trafficking very seriously.”

Steele praised detectives with the county’s Violent Crime Unit for their investigation and uncovering the contents of Whisted’s cell phone, which allegedly linked him to the straw purchases.

“These are not easy investigations. They are time intensive. They’re labor intensive. We work to search Instagram and Facebook and all kinds of social media. We’re doing search warrants on phones to get in there, so these investigations are not easy. But what we’re finding is devastating evidence,” Steele said.

“When somebody is taking a selfie of him defacing a police officer that lost his life, that is something that we’re paying attention to and I believe and hope that at a time when a sentencing occurs in that defendant’s case that a judge will get to see that and see what that person is about,” Steele said.

“Think about it, that’s taking a video of yourself doing that, that’s something that you’re proud of. Well law enforcement here in Montgomery County and in our area thinks a little bit differently about this and we are going to investigate and we are going to work very hard to make sure that anybody involved in a crime like this is not able to hurt other people by putting guns out there,” Steele added.

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