A man and woman from Bellows Falls are facing federal charges related to an alleged gun purchase, the office of the U.S. attorney in Vermont announced this week.
Federal prosecutors allege Bridgette Lawlor, 33, bought a handgun for Ferdinand “Feldi” Cruz, 39, whose criminal record made it illegal for him to own a firearm. Lawlor “falsely represented that she was the actual buyer of the firearm,” according to an indictment issued in June.
Lawlor is charged with making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm. Cruz is charged with being a felon in possession of firearms. The indictment — a document charging someone with a crime — accuses him of possessing the firearm Lawlor allegedly purchased, a Ruger .380 caliber, as well as a Taurus 9mm handgun.
The firearms were discovered through an investigation of sexual assault allegations against Cruz, according to court documents.
In April, a girl reported that Cruz had sexually assaulted her several years ago, when she was in elementary school, according to an affidavit written by Dover (Vt.) police Detective Rebecca Morris. She told investigators that Cruz had molested her more than once at the Bellows Falls apartment he shared with Lawlor, Morris wrote.
The girl made the report after recently seeing Cruz, who she said was wearing a handgun, in a store in North Walpole, Morris wrote.
Cruz was arrested in May, according to the affidavit. In that case, pending in the Windham Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court, he faces two charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and one of prohibited persons possessing a firearm, according to the Windham County State’s Attorney’s Office.
During that investigation, police found the two handguns in Cruz’s residence, Morris wrote. He told police that Lawlor had bought the Ruger several weeks earlier, according to the affidavit.
The federal indictment alleges that in March, Lawlor made a “false and fictitious written statement” on a form to deceive the dealer about who the firearm was actually for.
Lawlor told police that Cruz asked her to buy the gun “to protect them during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Morris wrote.
Cruz’s record includes felony convictions of burglary, robbery and unlawful restraint from 2006 in Connecticut, according to the affidavit.
Pleas of not guilty have been entered for Cruz and Lawlor in the federal case. Cruz is being detained pending trial. Lawlor was released on conditions.