A Live Oak man has been ordered to spend two years behind bars for selling illegal silencers for guns through an online business he operated with his father, whom authorities said advocated killing federal agents.
Gregory Eward, 25, had already been locked up more than a year when he was sentenced in Jacksonville’s federal court this week for conspiring to transfer unregistered silencers. He could have been sentenced to up to five years.
Silencers are regulated by the National Firearms Act and have to be registered with the federal government.
Eward, who took a plea deal in February, told U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard in a letter that “I did nothing to stop the progression that [the] business was making into being an unlawful enterprise” and referenced his father, Dustin Eward, as a factor in his legal trouble.
“I ignored the signs of danger from my father that should have set off alarms in my head and caused me to at least distance myself,” he wrote. “ … I continued moving along and assisting, knowing it wasn’t right. Knowing what the products I helped send could be used for.”
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Howard has scheduled Dustin Eward, 45, to stand trial in October, although in May a magistrate found him incompetent and ordered him held in a psychiatric facility for an indeterminate time.
Agents who searched the men’s home last year found 35 silencers and parts to make 300 more, none with serial numbers or markings they would need to be government-registered, according to the plea agreement.
Father and son were charged together in a five-count conspiracy indictment in May 2022.
Dustin Eward, whom court records describe as a former machinist for a Tampa gun manufacturer, is listed in state records as the incorporator and president in 2014 of Eward Research, a company that listed Gregory Edward as its CEO when the indictment was issued.
The indictment said Eward Research’s website carried information about silencer “kits” and that customers emailed the men about the items, which were sold for cash or cryptocurrency.
A excerpt of one exchange in court records includes a discussion of half-dozen-item list of parts, some needed two or three times, that together cost $171.
An undercover agent eventually bought three silencers from the company, according to court records.
An affidavit from a federal agent showed investigators at one point looked into the company because of online messages ascribed to Dustin Eward that encouraged shooting members of law enforcement.
“Kill the ATF. They are traitors and domestic terrorists. Execution is the appropriate punishment,” one message is quoted in the affidavit.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Selling gun silencers leads to prison sentence for North Florida man