Former Va. pawn shop owner pleads guilty to federal gun charges

Photo of the original gun bust and full text of the remarks by U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy at

By Brian P. McGinn
Public Affairs Specialist
United States Attorney’s Office,
Western District of Virginia

FRONT ROYAL, VIRGINIA — The former owner of a Front Royal pawn shop pled guilty this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville to charges related to the illegal sale of firearms.

Don Francis Simonpietri, 64, of Front Royal, Virginia, pled guilty this morning to one count of selling firearms without a license and one count of knowingly selling a firearm to a previously convicted felon. As part of his plea agreement, the defendant has agreed to forfeit more than 1,100 guns to the United States. The maximum penalty faced by the defendant at sentencing is 10 years in prison and a period of supervised release thereafter.

Today in District Court, Simonpietri admitted that after losing his Federal Firearms License in 2005, he continued to engage in the business of selling firearms, often selling guns at a local flea market. He also admitted to selling a firearm to a person he knew, or should have known, was a previously convicted felon.

The charges were brought following a lengthy investigation by local law enforcement in which a series of undercover gun purchases were made directly from Mr. Simonpietri, or his codefendant, Charles Shipe.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Front Royal Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Ronald Huber prosecuted the case for the United States.

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