NORRISTOWN — A Whitpain Township man joined his girlfriend in admitting the couple conspired with a North Wales man to operate a gun trafficking network that prosecutors alleged profited by arming criminals.
Philip Edward Jensen, 31, of the 1600 block of Skippack Pike, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to charges of corrupt organizations, illegal sale or transfer of firearms, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, conspiracy, person not to possess firearms, making false written statements and receiving stolen property in connection with incidents that occurred between April and May 2019.
Judge William R. Carpenter deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigation report. Jensen, who remains in jail without bail pending sentencing, potentially faces decades in prison on the charges.
Jensen’s girlfriend, Monica Ann Kumpf, 32, also of the Skippack Pike address, previously pleaded guilty to similar charges and is awaiting sentencing. Kumpf admitted she, Jensen and Gaime Hailemichael worked together and were accomplices in a gun trafficking organization.
Specifically, Kumpf admitted that she made 11 purchases of handguns and six attempted handgun purchases from gun stores in Hatfield, Horsham, Upper Merion and West Norriton between April 22 and May 3 after Jensen asked her to purchase guns for Hailemichael. Prosecutors alleged Hailemichael provided Kumpf with the cash to purchase the guns.
Jensen, who is represented by defense lawyer Ben-Zion Datika, was identified as Kumpf’s boyfriend at the time of their arrests in June 2019.
Hailemichael, 26, of the 100 block of Henning Drive in North Wales, is still awaiting trial on charges of corrupt organizations, conspiracy and various gun-related offenses, including sales to ineligible persons and providing false information to gun dealers.
Assistant District Attorney Roderick Fancher III is handling the cases.
At the time of the arrests, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged the organization’s “sole purpose is to make money by putting firearms in the hands of people who cannot lawfully buy and possess guns on their own.”
Some of the guns that were illegally purchased included Mini Draco AK-47 pistols, a smaller version of an AK-47 that is manufactured in Romania, according to court documents.
Of concern for authorities, Steele said at the time, was the fact that eight of the firearms had not been recovered by law enforcement.
The investigation began when an employee of American Arms & Ammo in Hatfield contacted police regarding Kumpf who had purchased four guns from the business within three days. The employee “suspected that the female may have purchased the firearms for some nefarious purpose, possibly ‘straw purchases,’” detectives alleged in court papers.
One of the methods allegedly used by the group was to make or attempt to make so-called “straw purchases” of firearms from licensed firearms dealers in the county.
A so-called “straw purchase” occurs when the actual buyer of a firearm uses another person, the “straw purchaser,” to execute the paperwork necessary to buy a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
A “straw purchaser” is someone with a clean background who buys firearms specifically on behalf of someone who is prohibited by law from purchasing a firearm, either because of a previous felony conviction or because of a mental health issue.
Kumpf, detectives alleged, was the only member of the group who could legally buy and possess firearms. Jensen and Hailemichael each had prior criminal records that prohibited them from purchasing firearms, detectives alleged in court documents.
Prosecutors alleged Jensen and Hailemichael planned the purchases of the firearms, telling Kumpf what guns and what types of guns and in what quantities to buy. They gave her money to buy them and they even used Hailemichael’s Uber account to Uber her to and from gun stores to make these purchases, prosecutors alleged.
Once Kumpf had the firearms in her possession, she turned them over to Jensen and Hailemichael, who in turn sold them on the street at a significant profit, authorities alleged.