Aliquippa man pleads guilty to federal gun charges |

Aliquippa man pleads guilty to federal gun charges

Chuck Biedka

An Aliquippa man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Pittsburgh federal court to illegally having guns and attempting to tamper with evidence.

Nicholas John Padak, 31, is facing up to 50 years in prison on four charges.

Prosecutors said Padak bought at least two rifles, even though he cannot legally have them, at Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms in McKeesport.

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said gun dealers are required to keep records on every firearm that is acquired or disposed of by the dealership, including those that are brought in for sale, trade or repair.

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives review of the store records showed that Padak brought two military-style rifles in for repair even though he isn’t allowed to have firearms or ammunition.

Padak has a 2014 felony theft conviction in Beaver County that precludes him from having guns.

Prosecutors said ATF agents asked Padak to get the guns on April 11, 2016. Although he agreed, he asked a relative to take multiple guns out of his house to hide them in a vehicle trunk. Agents said they witnessed six guns taken there and agents confiscated them.

One of those was a short-barreled rifle that is required to be registered under the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, but was not.

Agents said Padak also had a seventh firearm, which he purchased illegally on April 30, 2015, and later sold after picking it up from Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms in July 2015.

Erik Lowry of McKeesport, who ran the gun store, was sentenced in January 2018 to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and a fine of $30,000, for possessing an unregistered firearm, witness tampering and attempting to tamper with evidence.

Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms no longer is in business.

Senior U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose scheduled Padak’s sentencing for Sept. 3.

The law provides for the forfeiture and destruction of the firearms and ammunition, as well as a total sentence of up to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Under sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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