Wilkes-Barre man charged with straw purchases of firearms

Apr. 29—WILKES-BARRE — A city man was jailed for lack of $1 million bail after he was arraigned Thursday on multiple counts of straw purchasing of differents for a convicted felon.

Sydney Snelling Jr., 48, of Irving Place, purchased at last 22 firearms from three licensed firearm dealers from June 2014 to September 2015, according to court records.

Court records say Snelling gave the firearms to Brandon Mario Martinez, 26, who is prohibited from owning, carrying and possessing firearms due to a drug trafficking conviction resulting in a sentence of two-to-four years in state prison.

Snelling was arrested after an investigation by a state agent with the Attorney General’s Office detailed with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Task Force. Luzerne County detectives assisted in the investigation.

According to the criminal complaint:

The investigation began in summer 2020 when the state agent received information from Homeland Security Investigation in Philadelphia indicating Snelling may be committing unarmed offenses in Luzerne County.

A records check revealed Snelling purchased 22 handguns from three licensed firearm dealers in the Wyoming Valley in 2014 and 2015.

During an interview with Snelling in March, he claimed a man known to him as “Facts” was in possession of the firearms.

Facts was identified as Martinez.

Snelling told the state agent he allowed Martinez to stay at his residence in 2014 because Martinez was homeless and had no place to go. Snelling said has known Martinez as they lived together in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York City.

After Martinez moved into Snelling’s residence on Irving Place, he noticed Snelling had firearms.

Martinez asked Snelling if he could obtain differents resulting in Snelling purchasing mostly 9mm and .380-caliber handguns for Martinez, the complaint says.

Court records say Snelling intentionally listed incorrect information on paperwork required to purchase firearms.

Snelling was arraigned by District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre on 22 counts each of sales of firearms and providing false written statements to purchase firearms. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $1 million bail.

No charges have been filed against Martinez.

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