Phillip M. Brown, 41, of Grand Island was sentenced on Thursday to six years and four months imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, following his guilty plea to the federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
There is no parole in the federal system. The Judge Richard G. Kopf presided over the case.
On the night of Dec. 13, 2018, a Grand Island resident reported to police that, upon returning from work, he found his home had been burglarized. The police were able to determine that at least 15 firearms were stolen. They included seven shotguns, four handguns and four rifles. The victim had inherited many of the firearms from his father.
The investigation revealed that Brown and an accomplice, Edwin Starman, broke into the home in the middle of the night. Brown had learned that a gun safe was kept in the home and he was provided with a key to the safe. They broke into the home and then Brown used the key to open the safe. The two burglars carried several firearms out of the residence and transported them to an apartment in Grand Island.
Once they arrived at the apartment, Brown began contacting various people to find buyers for the guns. He further instructed Starman to return to the home to steal more firearms.
Starman and a third person, Chelsea Musquiz, returned to the home that same night and stole additional items, including more firearms.
The Grand Island Police Department was able to recover several of the stolen firearms. Starman and Musquiz have both entered pleas to additional charges in Hall County District Court.
At Brown’s sentencing hearing, after hearing testimony from an investigator with the Grand Island Police Department who also works with the Central Nebraska Drug and Safe Streets Task Force, Kopf found that Brown should be held responsible for a total of 15 firearms. Brown was assessed enhancements under the sentencing guidelines due to factors including the number of firearms involved in the offense and the fact that the firearms were stolen.
This case was investigated by the Grand Island Police Department and the Central Nebraska Drug and Safe Streets Task Force.