RALEIGH — The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today, United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced Hasan Eminof, 20, of Wilmington to 36 months’ imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release. On November 19, 2018, EMINOF pled guilty to a three-count Indictment, charging two counts of making a false statement to a licensed firearm dealer and one count of possession of a firearm by a person who had been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution.
The investigation revealed that on April 14, 2015, the Brunswick County District Court ordered that EMINOF be involuntarily committed to a mental institution for a period of 15 days due to mental illness and being a danger to himself. Following a review at the end of that period, he was committed for an additional 15 days. In addition, on January 22, 2016, the Wayne County District Court in Goldsboro, North Carolina, ordered that EMINOF be involuntarily committed to a mental facility for 30 days based on his being mentally ill and a danger to himself and others. This mental health history rendered EMINOF ineligible to possess firearms.
EMINOF, nonetheless, tried to purchase firearms on at least three occasions from June to October of 2016. In particular, on June 8, 2016, EMINOF attempted to purchase an AR-15 rifle at Backwater Guns in Wilmington, and on July 21, 2016, he attempted to purchase a “long gun” at Bullzeye Shooting, also in Wilmington. Both times, EMINOF completed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, the over the counter firearm transaction record. Question 11.f of the form asked, “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” In both instances, contrary to his history, EMINOF checked the “No” box and signed the form, indicating that all his answers were true, correct, and complete. Despite the misrepresentations, the background checks correctly determined that he was a prohibited person, and the firearms dealers declined to make the sales.
Still, on March 4, 2018, EMINOF was found to be in possession of multiple firearms. That day, EMINOF was on state probation, and his probation officers conducted a warrantless search of his Wilmington residence. When they arrived, they found EMINOF sitting in his parked car, which smelled of marijuana. Searching the car, the officers found not only a small amount of marijuana but also a stockpile of firearms – four handguns, a pistol-grip shotgun, and a rifle. Four of the firearms were loaded, and officers also seized additional loaded magazines for the handguns as well as loose ammunition for the shotgun and rifle. In addition to the firearms and ammunition, officers recovered from the car four knives, a brass knuckles Taser device, six cell phones, and a full-head goblin mask.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Since 2017 the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh is prosecuting the case for the government.