Gunrunner is sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter May 15, 2014 12:26PM
This photo of "Big Dave" Lewisbey was submitted as evidence in his trial for illegally selling guns.| Provided
Updated: May 15, 2014 5:51PM
A gunrunner who supplied illegal weapons to gang members during the bloodiest summer in Chicago’s recent history has been sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison.
“Big Dave” Lewisbey, 24, of South Holland, exploited a well-worn loophole by traveling back and forth between Indiana gun shows and the South Side, selling handguns by the duffle bag load before he was finally nabbed in 2012.
“This case is a perfect example of where the guns come from ... and into the hands of gangbangers who then shoot them and kill and wound people,” U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman said Wednesday as he imposed a 200-month sentence on Lewisbey.
Lewisbey — a former high school and college football star who had no criminal record that would prevent him from legally buying guns — bought 43 guns in Indiana and brought them to Chicago in one 48-hour period in April 2012, evidence at his trial last year showed.
Shell casings from a gun Lewisbey sold were found at the scene of a Gangster Disciples gang shooting just two months later.
“During one of the deadliest years in Chicago’s history, the defendant was pumping numerous unregistered and untraceable firearms into the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bethany Biesenthal and Christopher Parente argued in a sentencing memo.
“The defendant ran his business on the side streets and back alleys of Chicago’s neighborhoods. No background checks, no receipts, no written record.”
Despite the seriousness of the case, Lewisbey’s trial in September had a comic aspect. He claimed his wealth came from drug dealing, not gun trading, and that the guns he bought were simply his “personal collection” — an argument jurors didn’t buy.
He was partly undone by boastful Facebook posts in which he flashed wads of bills and vowed “I’m get rich or go to jail or die trying.”