AP NEWS

Johnstown man sentenced for lying on firearm application

May 2, 2019

A 26-year-old Johnstown man was sentenced Tuesday to 33 to 72 months in prison for statement under penalty, a third-degree misdemeanor, and materially false written statement — purchase, delivery, transfer of firearm, a third-degree felony.

A jury convicted Samson Washington on March 13 of lying on paperwork while trying to obtain a firearm.

Washington entered Dustoff Tactical along Tire Hill Road in Conemaugh Township on Nov. 8, 2017, and provided paperwork to purchase a firearm. He checked a box indicating that he had never been convicted of a felony. His criminal history showed, however, that he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cocaine trafficking in 2015 in Ohio, according to court documents.

Altoona defense attorney Matthew Dombrosky told President Judge D. Gregory Geary Tuesday at his client’s sentencing that Washington believed he was allowed to buy a weapon in Pennsylvania.

“He did not try to hide his felony,” he said.

Washington had nothing to say at his sentencing.

District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said that she felt compelled to bring up 10 years of prior criminal records for Washington.

Geary said the reasons for the sentence included Washington’s prior record, which indicated that he was a high risk for committing more crimes.

Washington was ordered to pay the costs of prosecution and supervision and $200 in fines. He must submit to DNA testing. He was credited for 289 days of time served.

“This sentence is what I expected,” Lazzari-Strasiser said after the sentencing.

Washington is currently in the Somerset County Jail awaiting trial for a double homicide in Conemaugh Township. He was charged in connection with the shooting deaths of James Smith, of Portage, and Damian Staniszewski, of Duncansville, on March 26, 2017.

The crime crossed county lines and involved kidnapping and torture, according to law enforcement authorities. Washington and Devon Wyrick, 24, of Columbus, Ohio, are accused of torturing the two men in the basement of a Johnstown house and then taking them to a wooded area along Ligonier Pike in Conemaugh Township and shooting them to death.

Smith and Staniszewski allegedly stole a large quantity of drugs and money from a stash house in Johnstown, which belonged to Washington, according to police.

Washington and Wyrick were arraigned in the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas Monday on the homicide charges. Washington’s defense attorney in that case is George W. Bills Jr. of Pittsburgh. Wyrick’s defense attorney is Sally Fink of Pittsburgh.