PORTLAND — When Randy Goodwin started buying and reselling guns, sometimes illegally to out-of-state residents, he was trying to earn some extra money to support his five children.

The Acton resident did not know he was breaking the law, and he never thought he could be putting other families at risk.

It was not until months later, when Goodwin was under federal investigation and learned that dozens of the guns he sold were being distributed to ex-convicts in Massachusetts, that he realized the impact of what he had done.

As he stood in federal court to be sentenced Monday, Goodwin said he lives in fear that one of the guns he sold has been used to commit violence, or will be used in the future for that purpose.

“I’m deeply sorry to any families that any of these firearms could have affected,” he said, wiping away tears.

“I still have a lot of sleepless nights,” said Goodwin, who pleaded guilty in July to illegal transfer of firearms to an out-of-state buyer.

Judge D. Brock Hornby sentenced Goodwin to three months in prison, plus two years of probation. He will never again be allowed to possess a firearm.

Hornby also ordered Goodwin to participate in community service by speaking publicly about state and federal gun laws. The judge said he had no reason to doubt that Goodwin was ignorant of the law that prohibits private sales of guns to out-of-state buyers, but that was no excuse.

“He had to know that something was wrong, even though he didn’t know his conduct was illegal. All of the warning bells should have been going off,” Hornby said.

Before his guilty plea, Goodwin had no criminal record. According to court documents, he began selling guns in late September 2009 through the popular classified bulletin Uncle Henry’s. About that time, Goodwin also began buying guns from a federally licensed dealer in Waterboro.

From September 2009 to January 2010, Goodwin sold nearly 100 handguns to Joseph Burns of Lynn, Mass., Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee wrote in court summaries of the cases against both men.

In turn, Burns distributed the guns in Massachusetts. In the fall and early winter of 2009, several guns traced to Goodwin were seized by police during arrests in Lynn.

Burns and another Massachusetts man, Marvin Davis, 24, of Boston, were arrested March 4 in a sting operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Burns allegedly drove Davis to a park-and-ride lot off the Maine Turnpike in York County to buy guns from Goodwin. Agents monitored the transaction and arrested the men after they allegedly paid $600 for a 9 mm pistol and a .38-caliber pistol.

Davis was prohibited from possessing guns because of prior convictions for armed robbery, armed assault with intent to kill, and drug distribution.

Burns pleaded guilty in June to a federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces as much as 10 years in prison; his sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Davis has agreed to plead guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, and he will plead guilty to a separate firearm possession charge in Massachusetts, according to court records. His case in Portland has been reassigned to U.S. District Court in Boston.

In the past few years, several cases in federal court in Portland have highlighted concerns about the flow of guns from Maine to Massachusetts, where private firearms sales are more strictly regulated. McElwee said the court must send a message to gun traffickers that their conduct will lead to serious consequences.

“Firearms trafficking between Maine and Massachusetts is a significant problem for us,” she told Hornby.

Goodwin’s lawyer and family members said he is a great father who also takes care of his parents and a grandmother. Randy Goodwin Sr. said the exchange of guns is “an everyday occurrence” in rural Maine, and there was no bad intent in this case.

“My son’s a really good dad. He has never broken the law knowingly,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: [email protected]