Illinois man pleads guilty in scheme to illegally buy guns in NWI

2014-06-23T21:30:00Z 2014-06-24T12:28:19Z Illinois man pleads guilty in scheme to illegally buy guns in NWISarah Reese, (219) 933-3351

HAMMOND | A convicted felon from Illinois pleaded guilty Monday in a scheme to illegally purchase firearms in Northwest Indiana.

Robert Barker, 28, was accused of coercing an informant into buying firearms at several region shops in 2013 and reselling some of the guns in Chicago.

Barker, who was convicted in 2006 of felony aggravated battery with a firearm in Cook County, was paroled to an address in Calumet City, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

Barker pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hammond to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. In exchange for his plea, the U.S. attorney's office agreed to dismiss 11 remaining counts against Barker.

The informant admitted to buying four guns with money provided by Barker at two region shops, according to court records. Those purchases included two .38-caliber semi-automatic pistols at Westforth Sports in Gary and a .40-caliber pistol and .22-caliber pistol at Gander Mountain in Merrillville, court records state.

When the informant began to balk at making more straw purchases, Barker verbally threatened the informant and the informant's family, hit the informant in the face and threatened the informant with a handgun, court records state.

Barker was arrested in December 2013 outside Blythe's Sport Shop in Griffith after driving the informant there and giving the informant money to buy three handguns, the affidavit says.

Barker is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.

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