LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY, AND RIVERHEAD, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office indicted a Lake Ronkonkoma sporting goods store owner for the alleged illegal possession and sale of weapons, including assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. One of those weapons was used to kill a two-year-old boy in a murder-suicide, according to the DA.
Today, Jan. 9, the DA announced charges against Chester Pergan, 53, of St. James. Pergan is the owner of Chester’s Hunting & Fishing, located at 232 Ronkonkoma Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma, according to the DA. The DA added that the store closed immediately following a search warrant in November 2018.
Pergan was arraigned on the indictment and bail was set for $800,000 bond. The DA said Pergan posted bond and he is out of custody.
He is due back in court on Feb. 6. If convicted of the top count, Pergan faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
Here is the full announcement the DA made today, Jan. 9.
DA SINI, NY STATE POLICE & SCPD ANNOUNCE INDICTMENT OF SPORTING GOODS STORE OWNER FOR ALLEGED ILLEGAL POSSESSION & SALE OF WEAPONS
Defendant Was Allegedly Found in Possession of 116 Illegal Assault Weapons & 820 High-Capacity Magazines
(RIVERHEAD, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini, the New York State Police and the Suffolk County Police Department today announced the indictment of a sporting goods store owner for the illegal possession and sale of weapons, including assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He was also allegedly in possession of numerous unserialized lower receivers, which can be used to manufacture ghost guns.
“The amount of ammunition and assault weapons seized and recovered in connection with this case is alarming,” District Attorney Sini said. “I want to make it very clear: One of our top priorities in Suffolk County is to combat violent crime, and an integral part of that strategy is to take illegal guns off our streets, which is exactly what we did here.”
Chester Pergan, 53, of St. James, is charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the First Degree, a B violent felony; Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a C violent felony; two counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree, a C violent felony; 36 counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a D violent felony; 13 counts of Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a D violent felony; and 16 counts of Criminal Possession of a Firearm, an E felony.
“The Suffolk County Police Department remains committed to partnering with law enforcement agencies to make our communities even safer,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “Illegal weapons put everyone’s lives at risk and this collaboration ensures that not only will Pergan be held accountable for profiting from illegal weapon sales but more importantly, more than 100 assault weapons won’t end up in the wrong hands. I would like to thank members of the SCPD, New York State Police and District Attorney Sini and his team for their dedication in this apprehension.”
Pergan is the owner of Chester’s Hunting & Fishing, located at 232 Ronkonkoma Avenue in Ronkonkoma. Pursuant to an investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, New York State Police and Suffolk County Police Department, a search warrant was executed at the store on Nov. 14, 2018, at which time Pergan was allegedly found in possession of 116 illegal assault weapons, more than 80 illegal knives, and 820 high-capacity magazines, including a loaded AK-47 found near the front counter at the store. Pergan was also allegedly found in possession of numerous lower receivers without serial numbers, which are legal in New York State but can be used in the assembly of ghost guns.
Pergan maintained a Federal Firearms License, which permitted him to sell rifles and shotguns; however he surrendered his New York State Dealer in Firearms License in 2015, making it illegal for him to purchase, possess or sell assault weapons. A valid New York State Dealer in Firearms License would have allowed him to purchase, possess or sell assault weapons only out of state in accordance with other state laws or to certain members of law enforcement.
The investigation revealed evidence that Pergan allegedly illegally purchased weapons from out of state retailers or distributors and illegally sold them to individuals that are not eligible to possess assault weapons in New York State. Over the course of the investigation, detectives attempted to locate and inspect illegal weapons allegedly sold by Pergan between 2015 and 2018, which resulted in the recovery of an additional 13 illegal assault weapons.
One of the assault weapons recovered during the course of the investigation was allegedly sold by Pergan in 2017 to John Ligurgo III, of Coram. In June 2018, Ligurgo used the illegal assault weapon to kill his two-year-old son and himself in Rockbridge County, Virginia.
“What’s important to note is that on its surface, this store looked legitimate – it was right there in plain sight on the streets of Suffolk County – but what was really happening is that he was trafficking in illegal firearms,” District Attorney Sini said. “If that is not bad enough, we have demonstrable proof that in at least one of those instances, a gun he sold was used in a heinous crime.”
Chester’s Hunting & Fishing was closed immediately following the search warrant in November 2018.
“He knew the rules and he intentionally violated them with no regard for the consequences of his actions,” District Attorney Sini said. “Because of the hard work of the Suffolk County Police Department, New York State Police and the prosecutors on this case, Chester’s store has been closed and Mr. Pergan has since surrendered his federal firearms license. He is effectively out of business.”
Pergan was arraigned on the indictment today by Suffolk County Court Judge Philip Goglas and bail was set in the amount of $800,000 bond. He is due back in court on Feb. 6.
If convicted of the top count, Pergan faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Mary Skiber, of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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