COLUMBIA — A former Lexington County corrections officer has pleaded guilty to illegally dealing in firearms.
William Andrew Cox, 56, of South Congaree entered the plea in federal court, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles announced on Friday. He faces five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, followed by three years of supervised release.
Cox purchased a large number of firearms at local gun stores, and two were retrieved during a roundup of Hells Angels members, according to evidence presented by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The gang member purchased two pistols (a 9 mm and .45 caliber) from Cox online from Armslist.com. Those weapons were then sold to undercover law enforcement agents.
Another firearm bought by Cox was found in Trinidad about 117 days after it was purchased by Cox. This firearm was used in a violent crime in Trinidad, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Between March 2009, when Cox was terminated from the S.C. Department of Corrections, and August 2012, Cox purchased more than 150 firearms, the ATF found. An undercover ATF informer and agent purchased weapons from Cox that were bought and sold the same day. The government asserted that this made Cox a dealer, and not a collector.
Executive a search warrant in Cox’s home, police found approximately 40 firearms and ammunition. He contends that he did not get a license “because he did not want the government in his business,” according to the release.
The case was investigated by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Lexington County Sheriff's Department. Assistant United States Attorney William K. Witherspoon of the Columbia is prosecuting the case.