Metro-East News

Centralia man gets 20-plus years for stealing guns to sell in Ferguson

A Centralia man was sentenced Friday to more than 20 years in federal prison for stealing guns from a Centralia farm supply store to sell to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.

Dakota R. Moss, 20, was sentenced to 248 months in federal prison for stealing 39 guns from Buchheit Farm Supply in Centralia. He was ordered to pay $29,712 in restitution and $400 in special assessments.

Moss was arrested days after the burglary and was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 16. The identity of Moss’ accomplice was not released because that person is a juvenile. Moss pleaded guilty on April 29.

Thirty-nine firearms and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition were stolen Nov. 29 from Bucheit Farm Supply in Centralia. The burglary was accomplished using a pickup, which was stolen from Centralia High School, to ram the locked security gate to make entry onto the store’s parking lot. The suspects then broke out store windows to make entry into the store.

Surveillance video showed that the initial burglary occurred at about 2:40 a.m. and revealed that the two suspects left the scene and twice returned to steal more firearms and ammunition.

Evidence established that Moss and the juvenile accomplice were armed while inside of Buchheit and intended to shoot anyone who interrupted the burglary — including the police. Moss and his accomplice stole the firearms in order to sell the guns for profit.

It was established during sentencing that Moss and his accomplice discussed selling the guns while also participating in the ongoing rioting and looting of businesses in Ferguson, Mo., in the summer of 2012, following the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darrin Wilson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Weinhoeft said the perpetrators planned on “participating in the riot in Ferguson and selling them to rioters in Ferguson.”

Weinhoeft said Moss has a long criminal record. The prosecutor pointed to the defense table and said, “If you count all of the times he’s been sentenced for crimes or violating probation or parole, he’s sat in that seat 15 times before a sentencing judge, prior to this sentencing.”

Moss apologized to the judge.

“I did the wrong thing. It was not the right thing to do. I learned from those mistakes,” Moss said.

Judge David Herndon called the crime “stunning” — one that could have had deadly results.

“It is a tragedy because of what could have happened had some of those weapons made it to Ferguson and wound up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” Herndon said.

The judge noted that Moss first had contact with the criminal justice system when he was 9, for a retail theft, and his crimes grew from there.

“Nothing seems to have gotten through to Mr. Moss,” Herndon said.

Centralia Police and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agents identified the suspects soon after the burglary and have recovered 37 of the 39 stolen guns to date. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of the remaining stolen guns or ammunition is asked to call police.

“The ATF, the Centralia Police Department and Clinton County State’s Attorney John Hudspeth all deserve credit for the cooperation and outstanding investigation that made this sentence possible,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Steve Wigginton. “I hope this sentence serves as a warning to others who would consider stealing and trafficking in firearms. We will find you, and you will go to prison. Moss is now scheduled to serve more time in prison than he has been on this earth.”