Buying a gun for someone who’s not legally eligible to own one is a federal felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but a woman who purchased four pistols for a convicted felon in exchange for crack cocaine has managed to avoid any time behind bars after a judge sentenced her to three years of supervised probation instead.
Kaitlynn Buck’s attorney says his client has turned her life around in the two years since she engaged in the straw purchase, and it looks like the judge agreed that sending her to prison would do more harm than good, even though cutting her such a sweetheart deal sends a message that maybe straw purchasing isn’t the serious crime federal statutes make it out to be.
Buck’s attorney, Robert Levine, wrote in court records that his client had made the gun purchases to support her drug habit.
At a party, she had met a drug dealer who sold Percocet. “The mention of drugs was enough to draw her interest,” Levine wrote.
The two “drank, smoked weed, and listened to music,” Levine wrote.
The man “spent the night in the spare bedroom and left the next day. The next time they met, (the man) asked Kaitlynn to perform a straw purchase of firearms for him. In return he offered her crack cocaine,” Levine wrote.
On Sept. 14, 2021, the man and his friend arranged to drive Buck to two separate gun shops to make straw purchases of four Glock pistols, Levine wrote.
The man she’d met at the party gave her “hits of crack before they left and two more in the car. She was under the influence by the time they arrived at the first gun shop,” Levine wrote.
The other man “accompanied her inside and handled the cash. Kaitlynn signed the ATF form, denying that the weapons were purchased for someone else. As soon as she got back to the house, (the man) gave her two eight balls of crack, in return for her assistance,” Levine wrote.
Buck could have been charged lying on the Form 4473 she filled out where she attested she wasn’t an unlawful user of drugs in addition to the straw buys, which makes her deal even sweeter.
In defense of his client, Levine wrote that while Buck grew up in a troubled home environment and was using a wide variety of illicit narcotics by the time she was 21, she managed to get clean shortly after the straw buys and “fully cooperated” with federal investigators when they showed up on her doorstep in March of last year.
She returned voluntarily to Maine after her indictment and stayed with friends, he wrote.
After her arraignment, Buck entered a sober house in Lewiston, where she spent three months, Levine wrote.
She moved back with her mother, got a job, participated in group therapy and ended her relationship with her boyfriend, Levine wrote.
“He was a constant source of stress, anxiety and temptation. They had used drugs together since she was 21,” Levine wrote.
Buck now works at a nursing home in South Portland.
“Kaitlynn has grown and evolved through therapy, hard work and abstinence from drugs,” he wrote.
I’m truly happy for her turnaround, and I hope that it sticks. I can even understand, at least to some degree, the rationale that sending her to prison could derail the work that she’s done to improve herself and her circumstances. But I also can’t help but think that if her significant self-improvement is ultimately more important than the fact that she broke the law, then maybe justice isn’t so blind after all.
Besides Buck, perhaps the person who should be most happy about her plea deal is Hunter Biden. If Buck managed to stay out of prison when she was facing a potential ten-year sentence because of her changed personal circumstances, Biden and his attorneys can certainly argue that he too should be spared incarceration now that he’s clean and sober. Of course, that might also hinge on him admitting guilt and “fully cooperating” with special counsel David Weiss going forward, and I’m not sure that Biden’s ready to take either step, especially with him going on a public relations blitz and declaring himself to be the victim of a political prosecution. Still, Buck’s case offers a potential way forward for Biden to avoid a prison sentence of his own, even as it undercuts the assertion that a straw purchase is a serious crime that comes with serious consequences.