Easthampton man pleads guilty to illegal possession of firearms he assembled, intended to sell

Staff Writer
Published: 8/13/2016 12:01:34 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A 51-year-old Easthampton man has pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally possessing AR-15 assault-style rifles that he assembled from component parts in Massachusetts and then brought to New Hampshire, according to federal officials.

Raymond L. Blackmer III pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire to one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He has been detained since his arrest on Nov. 6, 2015, and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 22.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Blackmer and the government agree to a prison term of 70 months, which exceeds the federal sentencing guideline range, according to U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice of New Hampshire.

Blackmer has a long criminal history that includes past convictions and prison time for child rape, concealing a death and attempted sexual assault. In 2008, he was convicted in Hampshire Superior Court on two charges related to a lewd act at Smith College and sentenced to up to three years in state prison, the Gazette reported at the time.

The Easthampton Police Department said it began investigating Blackmer’s narcotics sales in the fall of 2015 and subsequently learned that Blackmer had been purchasing component parts of firearms on the Internet. An investigation found that Blackmer was “actively engaged in fabricating firearms from partially assembled firearm components,” according to details outlined in the plea agreement.

Videos taken during the investigation in Easthampton show Blackmer “stating that he was selling the finished rifles in New Hampshire for about $300 profit per firearm, that he had interest in four firearms from potential buyers and that all of the firearms he had assembled to that point had been sold,” according to court documents.

“The videos also reflect Blackmer explaining that the firearms he assembled take AK-47 rounds and that he had fired 150 rounds from one of the assembled firearms at pumpkins and bottles with great accuracy,” court documents state.

Investigators then learned that Blackmer intended to travel from Easthampton to New Hampshire with one or more firearms with the intent to sell them. He was stopped by police Nov. 6 in Winchester, New Hampshire, where a federal search warrant was executed on his vehicle, turning up two AR-15-style rifles, two sets of rifle sights, and a 30-round AR-15-style magazine fully loaded in the trunk.

“Search warrants were then executed at Blackmer’s workshop and his residence,” Easthampton Police said in a statement over the weekend. “An additional nine firearms in various states of assembly were then discovered at these locations in Easthampton.”

At least five of the guns were completed enough to qualify as firearms under federal law, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in New Hampshire. Other items recovered included numerous gun parts and accessories, including two AR-15 pistol grips and a 30-round AR-15 magazine.

Police said Blackmer admitted at the time of his arrest that he had previously been convicted of felonies on at least five prior occasions and knew he would be incarcerated.

Law enforcement officials involved in the case also recovered a “fully functional semi-automatic AR variant” from a friend of Blackmer’s family in Swanzey, New Hampshire, who had been expecting a visit from Blackmer on the night of his arrest. The woman told authorities the gun belonged to Blackmer and voluntarily turned it over.

“A firearms expert would testify that certain parts of the firearm appear to have been milled with equipment that was not standard in mainstream production facilities,” law enforcement officials stated in the plea agreement.

The case comes at a time when Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has called for a crackdown on copycat assault-style weapons. Healey estimates 10,000 copycat guns were sold in Massachusetts last year.

In addition to the Easthampton Police Department, the case was investigated by the Holyoke Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms based in Springfield and Manchester, New Hampshire, and the Masachusetts and New Hampshire State Police.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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