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Friend of Dayton mass shooter expected to make plea

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Attorney for Ethan Kollie commented on his client on August 14, 2019.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ethan Kollie — the friend of Dayton mass shooter Connor Betts and the only person charged so far in the Aug. 4 Oregon District mass shooting that killed nine people — is expected to plead guilty to federal firearm charges next week.

Kollie has a plea agreement hearing set for Wednesday in Dayton’s federal court. It’s unclear when Kollie will be sentenced or what that sentence will be.

Kollie faces allegations that he unlawfully possessed firearms and made a false statement in purchasing firearms, saying in effect he was not an unlawful user of drugs.

Meanwhile, Dayton defense counsel Nicholas Gounaris has also asked U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose to amend the order of detention that has kept Kollie in jail since early August.

“Mr. Kollie is expected to enter a plea of guilty pursuant to a plea agreement on Nov. 20, 2019,” Gounaris said in a recent motion to the court. “Considering that he will resolve his case by way of a plea agreement, Mr. Kollie respectively requests that this honorable court modify” the detention order.

Gounaris in an interview Thursday declined to say what kind of jail sentence his client likely faces and whether the court would be bound by any agreement. By statute, these crimes carry penalties of no time up to 10 years at the maximum.

Gounaris said he will urge the court to consider an original pre-trial services staff recommendation that would have Kollie kept in home detention under strict conditions, possibly in the home of family friends.

Federal investigators have always said there was no evidence that Kollie, 24, took any part in planning Betts’ killing spree on East Fifth Street on a Sunday morning in early August.

The charges against Kollie have never involved the weapon Betts used in the Oregon District.

Vipal Patel, first assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Ohio, has said, however, that a federal complaint alleges that Kollie bought the body armor, the double-barrel drum-style magazine and the upper receiver to the AR-style pistol that Betts used in the killings.

Instead, Kollie faces federal charges of possession of a firearm by an unlawful user/addict of a controlled substance and making a false statement regarding firearms.

“We aren’t able to discuss details until the plea has been accepted by the court, which the court will consider at the scheduled hearing,” a spokeswoman for the Southern District of Ohio office said Thursday.

Traditionally, such crimes — called “lie and buy” gun purchases by some — have rarely been prosecuted, and they have usually resulted in lengthy jail time or prison sentences.

According to a 2018 federal report, of more than 12,700 U.S. Justice Dept. Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) investigations into people thought to have lied on the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System in fiscal 2017 — people whose gun purchases were denied for that reason — only 12 of those cases resulted in actual prosecutions.