Pro Tip: Don’t lie on federal forms

The Dayton shooting earlier this year was horrific and sad for the victims and their families. One friend of the shooter has found himself in legal jeopardy not for any involvement with the shooting, but for his willingness to assist the law enforcement investigation efforts.

In order to purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer, one must complete ATF Form 4473, which asks, among other things, if you are addicted to, or a user of illegal drugs. Since at least October 2016, the form includes a warning that marijuana is still illegal under federal law regardless of whether states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana.

In helping law enforcement, Ethan Kollie allowed federal agents into his home and admitted to habitual use of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.  Review of Kollie’s Form 4473s revealed that Kollie had marked “No” in response to the illegal drug question. Thus, upon finding firearms and illegal drugs in Kollie’s home, the federal government had an open and shut case for (1) lying on ATF Form 4473 (18 USC § 924; and (2) being a user of unlawful drugs in possession of a firearm (18 USC § 922(g) & (n).

Kollie admitted that he lied about his drug use on the form because he knew he would not be able to purchase firearms had he answered truthfully.

Lying on Form 4473 is a felony punishable by up to ten year’s imprisonment. For being a user of unlawful drugs in possession of a firearm, the punishment is up to five years in prison.

Keep in mind that Mr. Kollie’s crimes have nothing to do with the shooting. He simply agreed to talk to law enforcement and allowed them into his home, and those discussions and the permitted search of his home resulted in these charges.

Mr. Kollie has plead guilty and is expected to be sentenced in early 2020.

Two major lessons from Mr. Kollie’s conviction: (1) don’t lie on federal forms; and (2) consult an attorney before you allow law enforcement access to your home. Mr. Kollie is learning these lessons the hard way.