United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the guilty plea of MICHAEL RONALD GARANT, 42, for acting as a straw purchaser of three firearms for Ray Kmetz. GARANT pleaded guilty to making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. GARANT pleaded guilty today before Judge Joan N. Ericksen in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea, on August 21, 2014, Ray Kmetz was the highest bidder for three shotguns in an online auction, which were actually purchased by GARANT on August 23, 2014, at Full Metal Gun Shop in Princeton, Minn. The defendant informed the owner of the gun shop that he used the alias “Ray Kmetz” during the online auction to hide his true identity. GARANT produced a driver’s license to the store owner to verify that he was, in fact, GARANT.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea, a National Instant Criminal Background Check was performed on GARANT, and was returned “clear.” One of the required forms completed by GARANT as part of the background check contained the following question:
Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you.
GARANT responded “yes” to this question by checking the corresponding box. GARANT paid $659.29 in cash for the three shotguns, one of which was a Stoeger Model 2000 12-gauge shotgun bearing serial number 915191. Following the purchase, GARANT gave the shotguns to Kmetz, who was legally prohibited from purchasing firearms.
On January 26, 2015, Ray Kmetz entered New Hope City Hall, in New Hope, Minn., during a meeting of the city council. He was armed with the same Stoeger Model 2000 12-gauge shotgun that GARANT had purchased. Kmetz fired one round from the shotgun in the direction of the council chambers. New Hope Police Officers returned fire and killed Kmetz.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bejar is prosecuting this case.
MICHAEL RONALD GARANT, 42
Golden Valley, Minn.
• Making a false statement to acquire firearms on behalf of another person, 1 count