SILVER CREEK – The case of Benjamin Wassell, the first person to be charged under the state’s new gun law for selling an automatic weapon to someone who did not have the legal right to own one, will be transferred to Chautauqua County Court, where it will likely be heard by a grand jury.
Wassell, 32, of Silver Creek, appeared briefly in Hanover Town Court Wednesday.
Wassell faces a misdemeanor charge under the NY SAFE Act and three felony charges for criminal possession of an altered weapon, transport of a weapon and defacement of a weapon. He has pleaded not guilty.
The charges stem from an undercover operation conducted in January. He is accused of selling a Del-Ton AR-15 rifle, 299 rounds of ammunition and six large-capacity clips to an undercover agent for $1,900. The incident reportedly happened just nine days after the SAFE Act was passed.
He also allegedly sold an Armalite AR-10 Magnum semiautomatic rifle with 21 rounds of ammunition for $2,600 to the same undercover agent in February.
Members of the National Rifle Association crowded the courtroom Wednesday to show their support of Wassell. They had signs on pickup trucks and wore T-shirts and other clothing with gun rights slogans.
In Silver Creek, the supporters are seeking donations to help pay for Wassell’s defense. He is being represented by Michael Deal of the Buffalo law firm of Lipsitz Green Scime and Cambria.
The prosecutor’s team included Paul McCarthy and Cindy Kelly, both assistant state attorney generals.
Wassell has not had to post bail. Justice Walter R. Klyczek said there was no request for bail from the state, and Wassell has not presented any risk for leaving the area.