(STL.News) – John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Norman Klosek, also known as Rich Klosek, 36, of Enfield, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 46 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally purchasing and selling numerous firearms.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2018, the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force began investigating Ricardo Reyes, also known as “Rick the Ruler,” a member of the Los Solidos street gang who was distributing fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crack in the area of Park Street and Hungerford Street in Hartford. During the investigation, law enforcement conducted multiple controlled purchases of narcotics from Reyes. Court-authorized wiretaps confirmed that Reyes was distributing narcotics to numerous customers, and identified individuals who supplied drugs to Reyes and associates who sold drugs on his behalf.
Intercepted communications also revealed Reyes was acquiring and trafficking firearms, and that Klosek, who had a valid state pistol permit, was acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms for Reyes. Klosek was addicted to heroin/fentanyl, and he purchased and transferred the firearms to support his drug addiction.
On April 22, 2019, Reyes picked up Klosek in Enfield and drove to the Newington Gun Exchange, a licensed gun dealer in Newington, where Klosek purchased two handguns. During the purchase, Klosek completed and signed an ATF Form 4473 form in which he falsely represented that he was the actual purchaser of the firearms and was not acquiring the firearms for another person. He also represented that he was not an unlawful user, or addicted to, any controlled substances. Klosek provided the guns to Reyes after the purchase. Later that day, investigators conducted a traffic stop of Reyes’ vehicle and recovered the two firearms.
Reyes and several co-defendants were arrested on federal criminal complaints on June 17, 2019. On that date, investigators seized two additional guns that had been purchased by Klosek.
The investigation revealed that Klosek first purchased and registered a firearm with the State of Connecticut on November 6, 2018. Since that date, Klosek purchased a total of 47 handguns. Twenty-five of the guns were purchased in a six-week period between March 8 and April 22, 2019.
On April 24, 2019, a search of Klosek’s residence revealed empty gun boxes and receipts for firearm purchases, but no firearms. Klosek was arrested the following day in Hartford. He possessed fentanyl/heroin at the time of his arrest.
To date, approximately 10 of the 47 handguns purchased by Klosek have been recovered by law enforcement. One gun was recovered after it was used in a shooting in Hartford on August 22, 2019. In September 2020, handguns purchased by Klosek were recovered as part of criminal investigations in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and Riverside, California.
On March 2, 2020, Klosek pleaded guilty to one count of dealing firearms without a license and one count of making a false statement during the acquisition of a firearm.
Klosek, who is released on a $50,000 bond, is required to report to prison on November 17, 2020.
On June 27, 2019, a grand jury Hartford returned a 32-count indictment charging Reyes and 14 other members and associates of Los Solidos with various narcotics trafficking and firearm possession offenses. Reyes has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
The FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division and the New Britain Police Department have provided valuable assistance to the investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Leaming.
Yesterday, the Justice Department announced that more than 14,200 defendants were charged with federal firearms-related offenses during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. “The number one priority of government is to keep its citizens safe,” said Attorney General Barr. “By preventing firearms from falling into the hands of individuals who are prohibited from having them, we can stop violent crime before it happens. Violating federal firearms laws is a serious crime and offenders face serious consequences. The Justice Department is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who illegally buy, sell, use, or possess firearms.”