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Helena pawn shop owner gets four years of probation for firearms crimes

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A Helena pawn shop owner was sentenced to four years of probation on Thursday for facilitating straw purchases of firearms, according to U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson.

Catherine Suzanne Morsette, 39, of Boulder, owned Modern Pawn and Consignment when she pleaded guilty in September 2021 to two counts of making a false statement during a firearms transaction and to failure to keep proper records. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Morris presided over the hearing and ordered $4,955 in restitution.

As part of an undercover investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Morsette was indited along with three other defendants. During the investigation, Morsette facilitated two straw purchases in the pawn shop in April 2021. She also sold a firearm in the pawn shop that was not listed in the inventory records, and she did not require the actual purchaser to fill out any required paperwork.

A man and woman went to the business to look at a Beretta 9mm pistol in April. The man let Morsette know that he was not a Montana resident and showed his out-of-state driver's license. Morsette told the woman to fill out the ATF form instead, because she couldn't sell the firearm to the man. The woman filled out the ATF form and bought the pistol for the man.

Morsette also sold the man a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol after calling her husband Isaiah Morsette to confirm that it wasn't in the store's system.

Isaiah Morsette is one of the four defendants in this case. He has pleaded guilty to the charges against him and is awaiting sentencing. 

Earlier this week, Douglas Wayne Sillivan pleaded guilty to being a prohibited person in possession of stolen ammunition in connection with this case. This ammunition had been stolen from Montana Outdoor Sports, sparking the investigation into Modern Pawn, authorities said.

According to the initial press release, 34-year-old Richard Joe Munoz was also charged in relation to this incident.

This case was investigated by the ATF, the Helena Police Department and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office.

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