Crime

Federal gun trial for former Monroe County official rescheduled

A judge agreed to postpone former Monroe County Administrator Thomas Willi’s federal gun trial until the summer to allow his and his business partner’s attorneys time to prepare to defend their clients against an additional 21 charges tacked on by a grand jury earlier this month.

Willi, 51, and Jarvis Nelson Osorio, 35, were scheduled to stand trial April 4 on charges of knowingly selling firearms to felons through their Outbreak Ordnance gun shop on Big Pine Key from September 2014 to February 2015.

But U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez granted their attorneys’ motion to continue the trial and rescheduled it for July 11 at the Key West federal courthouse on Simonton Street.

Willi and Osorio originally faced about 25 years each in prison, but they may now be looking at life if they are convicted on all or most of the charges.

Their arrest last summer came after a sting operation orchestrated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allegedly uncovered that they were selling to felons but having non-felons fill out the paperwork required when one buys a gun.

The new charges, which the grand jury handed down March 3, include 14 counts of receiving and possessing unregistered concealed weapons designed to look like canes, flashlights and pocket knives. If convicted, these counts individually carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

They also each face two counts of selling firearms to a person under 21. Each count can result in five years in prison. Other new charges include making false statements in connection with the sale of a firearm. 

Willi and Osorio each pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Previously filed court documents indicate the new charges are the result of Monroe County jail recordings that surfaced late last year containing conversations Willi and Osorio had with unnamed third parties. Prosecutors told Osorio’s defense attorneys Edward Shohat and Michael Pizzi in January that the recordings could lead to a new indictment with new charges. 

Shohat and Pizzi did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment. Nor did Willi’s attorney, Benedict Kuehne.

Prosecutors also told Shohat on Jan. 5 that the jail has two more sets of recorded telephone conversations Willi and Osorio each had with people outside the jail, as well as other conversations the two men had with visitors.

They’ve been in the Monroe County jail since October when, after being freed on bond, a judge ordered them back into custody for violating pretrial release conditions –- they allegedly tried to make a gun transaction after being arrested. 

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