Former Cornell University student Charlie Tan pleaded guilty at a federal court hearing Friday just days before his trial was about to start in Syracuse.
He was charged in a federal indictment with receiving a firearm with intent to commit an offense and two counts of making false statements during the purchase of the firearm. The Pittsford native is accused of asking a friend to buy a shotgun for him at a Walmart. That same gun was used in the shooting death of Tan’s father at their home three years ago. Second-degree murder charges against Tan were dropped after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the case and the judge cited a lack of evidence.
United States Attorney Grant Jaquith said, “Thanks to the perseverance and collaboration of federal and local law enforcement, Charles Tan is being held accountable for arranging for the unlawful purchase of a shotgun so he could use it to shoot his father. We will continue to work diligently with ATF and other federal, state, and local partners to fulfill our commitment to combat violent crime.”
“As alleged Mr. Tan illegally obtained a firearm and then used that illegal firearm to commit a heinous crime. Crimes involving illegal possession of firearms lie at the heart of ATF’s mission to protect the public from violent crime. I would like to thank our law enforcement partners that stand with ATF as one united front to protect our citizens from individuals who look to cause harm to their fellow citizens. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the United States Attorney’s Office for their work in prosecuting the case,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives-New York Field Division
Tan also pled guilty to two offenses related to misrepresentations made to the federally licensed firearms dealer at the time of the “straw purchase” of the shotgun. In entering these guilty pleas, Tan admitted that he knew his fellow Cornell University student would have to lie on a background check form as to the true identity of the actual purchaser (Charles Tan). This form, known as the Department Of Justice – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473, required that Tan’s fellow Cornell University student falsely sign and certify he was the actual purchaser in order to buy the shotgun. This was false because the purchase was actually and truly being made for Charles Tan, who supplied the money for the sale. In pleading guilty today, Charles Tan admitted to aiding, abetting and causing his fellow Cornell University student to make the false statement on the ATF Form 4473 as to the identity of the actual purchaser, a fact material to the lawful purchase of the firearm.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 18 in Syracuse. Tan faces up to 25 years in prison.