Straw purchaser arrested in connection with Oxford Circle murder

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was in Oxford Circle today to announce the arrest of a straw purchaser who bought several guns for a teenager who used one of those firearms to shoot someone.

Luke Dercole, 32, is charged with illegal transfer, firearm not to be carried with a license, carrying firearms on public streets, possession of firearms by a minor and other charges. Dercole is accused of buying four guns fort he 16-year-old drug dealer.

From the District Attorney’s Office: “Dercole, of the 6400-block of Lawndale Avenue in Lawncrest, was arrested on Wednesday night by Gun Violence Task Force agents, and is currently being held on $500,000 bail. Dercole is charged with straw purchasing for 16-year-old Michael Burak. Dercole bought the teenage drug dealer four different guns on four different occasions in Northeast Philadelphia between Oct. 17, 2012 and Oct. 23, 2012.  

Burak then allegedly used one of those guns to shoot 20-year-old Jonathan Espinoza on Oct. 28, 2012 at 1250 Van Kirk St. in Oxford Circle.  Burak is facing attempted murder and other related charges for that shooting.”   Police were led to Dercole following a search of a home in Frankford, and Dercole admitted to exchanging the guns for packs of heroin.

“Since the straw purchases were made before December of 2012, Dercole is not eligible for the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison under House Bill 898,” according to the DA’s office. “House Bill 898 effectively closed a legal loophole in Pennsylvania that prevented prosecutors from securing enhanced penalties for second and subsequent offenses by straw purchasers.”

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